Josh Kutchinsky

I didn’t know him but I have many friends who did and I can see that Josh Kutchinsky is a great loss.

The IHEU:

Josh Kutchinsky, one of the greatest friends to international humanism, died last night. He had been suffering from an interstitial lung disease diagnosed in 2016.

Josh was a committed organiser and phenomenal personality within the humanist movement, both at home in the UK, and internationally.

During many years of activism, he served as a trustee of Humanists UK, and then Humanists UK’s international representative to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), as well as joining IHEU’s Uganda Humanist Schools Advisory Group. He was a founding trustee of the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. In 2013 he received the IHEU Distinguished Services to Humanism Award at the IHEU General Assembly in Bucharest.

Josh was an early driving force behind the Central London Humanist Group, and he continued this and many other roles for some time even after moving to Montauroux in the south of France.

Josh was deeply enthusiastic and supportive of fellow humanists’ efforts. He loved meeting and whenever possible travelling to participate and encourage humanist activities around the world. Following on from the 2004 IHEU General Assembly in Kampala, Uganda, he founded an online support network sharing “good news and bad” among humanist activists from around the world which is still active today.

Humanists UK:

Josh’s contributions to the growth of humanism around the world were vast. For many, he is best remembered for the key role he played in the development of humanism in Africa, where his work helped change the lives of hundreds of young people for the better. In 2008, he became a founding trustee of the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust, a charity working to provide a liberal, humanist education to some of the region’s poorest and most vulnerable children. He also played a pivotal role in setting up Francophone Africa’s first ever secular conference in 2007. He put in place and maintained digital infrastructure which supported humanist networks to form and develop across the continent.

Josh found his experiences working alongside humanist colleagues from around the world profoundly inspiring. In a poem he wrote following the 2011 World Humanist Congress in Oslo, he found expression for what it was he most celebrated in humanism: ‘Thinking freely, / Touching hands, / Minds conceiving.’ But for all his work overseas, he was no less involved in humanism at home, where he helped lead the UK’s largest and most successful local humanist group – the Central London Humanists – for many years. He also served as a trustee of Humanists UK. The Chair of the Board at the time, Robert Ashby, remembers how he made ‘valuable and carefully considered contributions at all times’ and this was a hallmark of all Josh’s work.

Ros Lyn on Facebook writing from Accra:

We had such a great time in Malta and the gifts we got for each other was such a beautiful surprise including the gift from his wife. Leo Igwe and i are at a loss for words. The 3 of us have such great memories together. We always hang out like old friends after conferences, took long walks, trying new foods or not lol and our conversations got so deep that passers by would wonder what we smoked 😆. Josh was the epitome of a Humanist in all sense of the word. A truly Distinguished Service to Humanism Award Winner, humble, down-to-earth, funny, freethinker, teacher and a good listener. He was always with a smile even when he was ill and allowed me take photos of him anyway. When I last saw him, i was soooo happy because i missed him but i was sad and held back my tears because he was so ill but Leo just had to see him and bring him to join us at the conference in London and i know Josh was so proud to witness Leo receive his Distinguished Service to Humanism Award as well. He was always there to advice and support. I am so proud to have known you and have you as an icon to look up to all your great works and achievements. 

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A sad day.

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