My friend and comrade Nicki Sellars died last week after a long battle with cancer. I met Nicki in 1989, while we were working together at a publishing house. I’d never met anyone quite like her before. She was vivacious with the most infectious laugh, patient and clear when discussing her favourite subject, politics.
She answered many of my political questions and recruited me to the Socialist Workers Party on the eve of the poll tax demonstration and riot in 1990.
I wasn’t her first or last recruit. Nicki joined the SWP in London in the mid-1970s while studying sociology and psychology at Brunel University and became a committed revolutionary socialist.
Active in the workplace, the community and her SWP branches, she was involved in some of the biggest strikes, campaigns, and protests of the past half-century. They included the anti-fascist Battle of Lewisham, the Rock Against Racism carnivals, the Miners’ Strike, the Wapping print workers’ battle, the poll tax, and the anti-Nazi Battle of Welling.
Nicki did various jobs. She was a residential social worker, graphic designer, language teacher, translator and, for many years, worked at the party’s print shop. In the 1990s she decided to move to Italy to build a sister organisation of the SWP.
It was a difficult task but Nicki was an experienced activist with a practical sense of organising and she approached the work with her usual tenacity and optimism.
During this time Nicki fell ill with breast cancer and she eventually returned to her home city of Bristol in the early 2000s. Here, she helped care for her elderly parents and made a new circle of friends, who found her sense of fun and gregarious nature irresistible.
She started writing, gave poetry recitals and published a novel, Colour Me In, in 2014. But the cancer returned and she finally succumbed after a three-year battle.
Nicki leaves two brothers, David and Jeremy, and many dear friends.