Co-operatives UK Vice-Chair Nick Matthews pays tribute to a "champion of the co-operative and mutual sector" following the death of Professor Johnston Birchall.
"There is no doubt that the UK movement has lost one of the great co-op advocates with the passing of Professor Johnston Birchall," said Co-operatives UK Vice-Chair Nick Matthews.
"Everyone who knew him and his work across the global co-operative movement will mourn his loss. Fortunately, he leaves a tremendous body of incredibly valuable work as anyone looking through his dozens of publications will testify."
Johnston, a professor emeritus at the social sciences department at Stirling University, passed away following a long illness. A passionate advocate for co-ops, he was a renowned author and scholar.
"Johnston said 'the co-operative business model is a serious alternative to corporate capitalism' and his body of work demonstrates just that," added Nick Matthews. "He covered the entire global history and spectrum of co-operative enterprises and came up with a wonderful genealogy of what he referred to as 'member-owned businesses'. A template that is still being used as a way of classifying co-operative societies.
"Johnston’s books should line every co-operators study, from his work on The International Movement, to The Co-op: the People’s Business to his more recent work, People-Centred Businesses, Co-operatives, Mutuals and the Idea of Membership.
"Johnston was a lovely man, genial and thoughtful, excellent company after hours at co-op events, we shared a love of jazz and he was a great source of co-operative wisdom.
"He produced a great piece of work for Co-operatives UK on 'The Governance of Large Co-operative Businesses’ which should be compulsory reading for all Directors of large co-ops. He was always leading as well as recording ways of thinking about co-operatives as his work on multi-stakeholder co-ops shows.
"We have lost a great friend of the co-operative movement I very much hope we will find a suitable way to memorialise his passing. Deepest condolences to his family and friends from all of us at Co-operatives UK."