The life and work of a visionary environmental campaigner who strived to challenge the status quo was celebrated at a ceremony in Warwick on Saturday.

Hundreds of friends, colleagues and supporters of Stuart Jackson Hayward gathered at the Riddell’s Bay Gardens and Nature Reserve for an evening of music, poetry and tributes to a man described as someone “who marched to the beat of a different drummer”.

Mr Hayward, who died in June at the age of 80, set up and led the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, a campaign group created to protect the island’s natural environment from the threat of increased development at a time when it was not fashionable to do so.

He worked as a teacher, musician, author and journalist, and also served as an independent Member of Parliament in the early 1990s, where he brought environmental issues to the fore of public debate and consciousness.

Saturday’s tributes were led by David Wingate, the conservationist responsible for reviving the fortunes of the thought-to-be-extinct cahow in the 1950s.

Dr Wingate said: “Every so often a person comes along who is destined to change the mindset of an entire generation. I believe Stuart was one such person.

“His career and influences were extraordinarily broad. I believe his biggest influence was in helping to bring Bermudians together to close the racial gap.

“He did this in the best possible way – by example, and by his love of everything and everyone Bermudian.”

John Barritt, a lifelong friend of ‘Action Jackson’, continued that theme.

“Stuart was never reluctant to ask all the questions we all wanted to ask,” Mr Barritt said.

“Why? Well if not why, why not? He had a passion for disassembling problems and challenges and then reassembling them in a way that would benefit the wider community in Bermuda.”

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