In memory of Steve Carne

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It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our friend and fellow campaigner Steve Carne who was killed in a car accident in the USA when visiting friends.

Louise Irvine, KONP Executive member, remembers Steve.

I first met Steve during the People’s March for the NHS in 2014, organised by 999 Call for the NHS. Steve was one of the march organisers, doing an incredible job with the website, publicity, social media and logistics. The march was powerful and inspiring and had a huge impact, in no small part due to Steve’s work.

After that I encountered Steve again in various initiatives, such as the NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign and the JR (judicial review) against the Centene takeover of GP practices.  In all of that work Steve displayed the same enthusiasm, dedication and passion that I’d first encountered in the People’s March.

Steve was part of our small team that worked night and day to support the JR against Centene. Steve took on the job of organising and updating the fundraiser and writing our communiqués with our supporters to keep them up to speed with the case. Even though we lost, the JR served to highlight and bring to public attention something that would have remained hidden had we not done so. It led to a Panorama investigation spotlighting one of the practices we had named in the JR, and which subsequently lost its contract.

Steve was very creative and advocated for the use of powerful visual images, theatre and humour in communicating to the public the terrible threats to the NHS from privatisation, and the urgent need to organise to defend it.

His focus on using different modes of communication led him in many directions including film making, street theatre and the creative arts. I helped him when he made a short film about PFI that is one of the best explanations I’ve seen of that otherwise quite complex issue – he wanted to cut through the obfuscation and explain to the public why these things were important.

Steve’s innovative approach to ways to communicate, as well as his knowledge of and love of the arts, led to him initiating a major project to raise awareness of and champion the importance of the NHS during the time of Covid: Threads of Survival. This is a beautiful project of quilt making by people around the country to illustrate all the personal and political issues raised during this time. It deserves to be in a national gallery.

The last time I saw Steve was at the display of some of the quilts at the SOSNHS conference at the London Irish Centre in November 2022. We had a great conversation about the project – Steve’s passion and optimism were infectious – and we parted with a promise to carry on collaborating, and a big hug. That was the last time I saw Steve. I can’t believe he has gone. He was such a lovely man. His death is a great loss to our movement and we must honour Steve by carrying on the work that he devoted his life to.

Louise Irvine, KONP EC member

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  1. Thank you Louise for posting this tribute to a wonderful man, a creative and articulate communicator and a passionate campaigner. it is very hard to believe he has gone.

  2. What a loss! Such sad, shocking news. Steve’s enthusiasm and creativity leave a huge vacuum. He will continue to inspire us to think big and creatively about how to communicate the threats to our NHS and the priceless achievement we are at risk of losing.

  3. Only just got this terrible news. I met Steve once only…tweeted years. He was a voice for his time and a stalwart against the terrible damage they’re doing to the NHS and the wider social cohesion in our country. So sorry to all who loved him. David Goodland

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