Tributes have been paid to Martin Eastwood, engineer musician, artist, and environmentalist, who died earlier this year aged 73.
Martin was well known in Uckfield for his involvement in the town’s festival, art trail, Bridge Arts, and as a member of the medieval music group Reflections, and of Holy Cross Church choir.
He died in February, after a battle of more than a year with a brain tumour. Sadly, because of the Coronavirus, only his closest family members were allowed to attend a cremation but they are hoping eventually to organise a memorial concert and would like to hear from anybody who would like to take part.
Martin leaves his wife Jane, daughters Sarah Gauntlet and Sophie Joel, son Tom, and six grandchildren, Isaac, Lily-May, Lucy, Emily, Amy and Kitty.
Martin was described by his family as a “thoroughly decent man – a concept somewhat alien in this fraught new world”.
They told Uckfield News: “He was a renaissance man with interests in a multitude of human endeavours both technological as well as artistic.
“He was a family man with a deep and abiding love and responsibility for his wife and children.
“The most impressive aspect was the solution that Martin brought to every creation. Never conventional and always unexpected.
“Building things was his passion and it was always a feature of Martin’s creations that they were undertaken in a way that was utterly unique.
“You may have seen his incredible church tableaus for the Holy Cross Christmas tree festival
“He was a calm man with a strong community spirit and would always muck in and lend a hand within the community.”
The current chair of Uckfield Festival, Dorothy Sparks, said Martin was a great asset to the festival and the community of Uckfield.
Friends Martyn and Vivien Stenning said they met him when he joined the musical group Reflections, playing the flute and singing. He joined many other local choirs, singing bass.
Martyn and Vivien said membership of Reflections led on to other things, such as producing amateur dramatic productions, including plays called ‘The Vigil’, ‘Androcles and the Lion’ and children’s productions for which Martin worked creatively with teams producing stage props and clothing and also acting some parts.
The couple went on to say: “Martin was a competent tailor and dressmaker. He was also an active member of an early music ensemble playing, among many other instruments, a variety of crumhorns.”
“Martin was also a congenital environmentalist. His father was Professor Eric Eastwood, a pioneer of RADAR technology who wrote a landmark book with the unlikely title of ‘RADAR Ornithology’.
“Although an engineer by trade, Martin devoted his professional life to sustainable energy generation by developing the idea of waste to energy, thus avoiding the necessity for using both landfill as a means for rubbish disposal and fossil fuels for producing electricity.”
Martyn and Vivien said: “At the time Martin joined Reflections, we were running a conservation project to rid a Woodland Trust nature reserve of alien invaders which were swamping the vegetation and preventing the natural regeneration of biodiversity.
“On learning this Martin became an unstoppable and faithful force in this project, attending the monthly Saturday task-days at Lake Wood.
“It took us 15 years of winter task-days to rid the reserve of these interlopers from abroad. Martin also helped with the management of Lime Tree Avenue with other Lime Aid volunteers.
“In summary, Martin was kind and generous. His family, to which he was devoted, music, conservation and sustainable engineering were the focus of Martin’s life and everyone who knew him are now deeply saddened at losing him so prematurely.”
Tim Benians got to know Martin Eastwood around 15 years ago when they put the first Uckfield Art Trail together.
Tim said: “He was keen to add visual arts to the Festival’s repertoire of music and theatre, so we collaborated closely from then, through many years of Art Trails and into Bridge Arts.
“Martin could always be relied on for his brilliant organisational and diplomatic skills, and to find time to keep us all on track despite his many other interests.
“Uckfield will miss his willing and welcoming manner in all that he turned his creative mind to.
“I will always remember him in his Picasso outfit encouraging children to create masterpieces in a gazebo on Luxford Field.”
Martin was born in Stafford and grew up at Little Baddow, near Chelmsford in Essex, where his father was director of research with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co.
He was sent to boarding school at the age of eight, Felsted School, then went on to University College London where he was awarded a degree in Mechanical Engineering, the first step in what became a lifelong interest in the generation of electricity from waste.
Martin’s family said: “In retrospect it is perhaps surprising that Martin ended up an engineer.
“His creative talents would perhaps have been better deployed in a non-engineering forum. But Martin was a highly responsible individual and the choice of engineering for a career ensured that he was able to earn a comfortable livelihood and take care of his family.”
From the age of 21, on leaving university, he already saw the problems of waste and entered into the work of solving fuel problems with renewable energy. He was part of the team which designed the first machines for de-inking newspaper, so the paper could be used again.
Martin worked for Black and Veatch, a prestigious engineering, procurement, consulting and construction firm with its headquarters in Kansas City, USA.
As chief engineer for the UK subsidiary Martin enjoyed a significant role furthering Black and Veatch’s expanding interests in waste to energy projects worldwide.
He came to East Sussex in 1987 to work on a project with East Sussex County Council on the generation of electricity from waste. He was responsible for overseeing the development of a plant in Pebsham, Bexhill, to convert waste and rubbish into fuel pellets to sell to the grid.
Two months before he became ill he travelled to India and China to help deal with, and advise on, their huge refuse problems.
Music was a driving factor in Martin’s life. He loved medieval instruments, in particular the shawm – a forerunner of the oboe – which he played in his medieval performance group ‘Loud Winds’ and ‘Schola Noctis’. He played in Medieval Concerts at Bridge Cottage & Medieval Weddings and Festivals.
Martin was also a member of a male voice choir in London, was learning ancient Greek, and played flute around the pubs for the Holy Cross Carol Singing, he gave blood, and performed with Uckfield Theatre Guild.