RICK Vick, one of Stroud’s movers and shakers, a lynch pin of the town’s arts scene and a good friend to many, has died.

A much loved writer, poet, artist and teacher, Rick passed away peacefully at home on Saturday, November 30 surrounded by family and friends.

He had been being diagnosed with bladder cancer in November last year.

Rick was well known in Stroud for his inspirational teaching and passion for encouraging creativity in others.

He organised events, festivals, gigs, poetry readings and started the film club at The Space. Under the auspices of Stroud Festival, he brought opera and ballet to the town. And it was Rick who came up with the idea of SVA’s now long running and highly successful jazz jam nights.

Neil Walker of SVA said: “Rick was an amazing individual and one of the most kindest and humble people I have met. He was truly passionate about arts and had a vast broad knowledge.

"One of his favourite projects of late was a desire to establish a children’s festival for Stroud that properly engaged children in the arts without being patronising or condescending, this he did by creating an amazing event called Playground in the summer that was enjoyed by all.

"We’ll all miss his commitment, enthusiasm, compassion and humour. He was a wonderful man.”

Rick taught creative writing at SGS College, the Nelson Trust and GL11 in Cam, plus he ran several writing clubs and taught English to refugees.

He published two collections of his verse and a pamphlet, Indian Eye, following a trip to India with his partner artist Gypsy Gee.

Since his death, Rick’s Facebook account has been flooded with messages from people commenting on what an inspiration he has been to them.

This message sums up the thoughts of many: “Rick was one of those people that every writer or artist needs. Someone who gives you a chance, gives you time, challenges you and helps you become the person you’ve always wanted to be.”

Nephew-in-law Ben Bywater remembers sitting around Rick’s kitchen table.

“We sipped wine from small glasses, shared our tobacco and talked about anything and everything. I felt I had something to say and was being heard saying it, and sensed that he expected good and significant things from me. He was deeply affirming company.

“Like all the best people in my life, I felt he saw what is shining in me, beyond any postures and defences I may present.”

Artist Christine Felce said: “Rick has been involved in so many projects helping disadvantaged people in Gloucestershire.

“He was also supportive of young musicians in organising Glos Rocks at the Lansdown Hall, remembered by many 20 something Stroudies.

“For several years he established the Short Film Showcase providing young filmmakers with an opportunity to publicly present their work.

“It was his gift with words and encouraging people to express themselves in his writing groups that must be so memorable for his students.

“He was always thinking about how it feels for others, especially young people, who needed to be heard.”

Filmmaker Nick Broomfield recalled meeting Rick at the City of Westminster College when they were both 17.

He said: “It was a gathering ground for eccentrics and originals who generally had been expelled from their previous schools. We very quickly become best friends and somehow, we knew right away that we could always depend on each other. We have remained best friends for the last five decades.

“Rick was definitely rebellious, mischievous, swashbuckling, handsome, and full of tricks; how to avoid paying tube fares, how to gate-crash the best parties, how to get the most beautiful girls, but I also noticed he was unusually in-tune with the weakness and suffering of others. I never saw Rick being cruel or mean.”

Rick embarked on his adult life as a fresh faced reporter on Fleet Street in the 1960s.

But when confronted with a choice between heading to Vietnam to cover the escalating war there, or going to the USA to pursue his own American dream, he opted for the latter.

He often recalled his rapid transformation after arriving in the US. When he landed in New York in 1969 he was dressed in a suit, with a dinner jacket in his suitcase. Not long after, he travelled west to California, where he dumped his dinner jacket, grew his hair long and fully embraced the blossoming hippie movement.

In an interview with the SNJ in 2016 he said: “These were exciting times. Everything seemed possible. We went to beach parties, got into Buddhism, meditated naked on mountains and smoked a lot of pot.”

After visiting an event featuring the Beat poets Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, he began writing poetry and prose, a passion that would remain with him for the rest of his life.

He went on to travel extensively in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, but it was Greece that captured his heart.

He settled there for eight years on an island called Hydra, joining a community of writers and artists which included Leonard Cohen.

Shortly after he met his Canadian wife Shelley.

They spent years together in Greece and Canada, having three children, Lucian, Faye and William. The family moved to Stroud in 1997.

After the end of his marriage, Rick began a long term relationship with artist Gypsy Gee. For the past 15 years, the couple have shared their enthusiasm for the Stroud arts scene, regularly attending arts events together.

A public event to celebrate Rick’s life is planned at the Goods Shed in January.