Emily Craddock Remembered

Activist dies protecting Amazon

Feature story - 19 December, 2003
Greenpeace activist Emily Craddock died last week in the Amazon. Emily was aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise as part of our efforts to stop illegal logging in the area.

Emily Craddock

Joint statement from the family of Emily Craddock and Greenpeace

December 19th 2003

Today the federal police in Belem, Brazil concluded the enquiry into the death of Greenpeace activist Emily Craddock in the Amazon. The files will now be delivered to the Federal judge who will rule on the cause of death in the New Year, however the police have stated that they are satisfied that her death was not suspicious.

Arrangements are now being made to fly Emily's body home to England. The crew of the Greenpeace ship, the MV Arctic Sunrise, which was campaigning against illegal logging in the Amazon, will also being going home today. The ship and replacement crew will remain in Belem until resupplied with fuel and food and then also depart.

Emily's family and Greenpeace have released the following tribute to their much loved daughter and friend, and dedicated the recent Amazon tour in her memory. The family now ask that their privacy will be respected, and that they are left in peace to deal with their grief at this difficult time.

Malcolm Craddock, father

Gerd Leipold, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

Emily Claire Craddock
19.1.1976 - 12.12.2003

Emily was born in a blizzard, on January 19th 1976. Never one to play with dolls or do anything she considered silly, she was something of a challenge to her teachers at Hampstead Hill School, St Mary's Convent and St Christopher's in Letchworth.

At four years old, when she caught her mother pouring boiling water on a column of ants (as her mother preferred them in the garden, not the kitchen), she protested furiously - her blue eyes blazing under that blonde mop.

At the age of nine she became a Greenpeace supporter and was actively campaigning by the time she was ten, producing a school project on how cutting down trees in the Amazon caused famine in Africa and floods in North India.

Our eco-warrior never lacked for courage. At fifteen she took herself off - alone - to go and work on the Turtle Protection Project on the Island of Zakynthos. While the local Greek people would rather put the profit of hotel building ahead of the preservation of the nesting habit, Emily helped change their views. Those turtles and their nesting grounds are now protected.

Emily loved sports of all kinds, skiing in stunning mountains, scuba diving within that wonderful water-world, and she was passionate about football, outstripping her trainer brothers in skill and eventually playing for Tottenham Ladies. It was a passion she shared with her beloved Dad and the pair was a familiar sight in the west stand at White Hart Lane.

Her sporting prowess was matched by her intellect. Aware of the power of politicians and appalled by war, her dissertation for her politics degree, at Loughborough University, was on the major actors in the Arab- Israeli conflict. The late King Hussein helped her with her research. He kindly remembered how, in Indonesia, this blonde child had introduced herself to tell him his bodyguards' trousers were too long and made them look undignified, then asked him for a dance.

After graduation, Emily first worked for the Lottery's Charity Fund helping charitable organisations achieve the necessary funding for their work. She then worked as a teacher and continued to do so when on leave, sharing her love of this beautiful world with many children.

Emily had an extraordinary ability to communicate with people of all ages and walks in life. She was still in regular, caring contact with her postman Harry, ten years after his retirement. Ems seemed to make an almost instant but lasting bond at a genuine and memorable level with those people she met. She loved animals, could calm the most frightened horses, but considered it wrong to train her dog Georgie.

In 1999, when Emily was in Australia visiting her brother, she saw Greenpeace's ship, the Arctic Sunrise, docked in Fremantle for repairs after clashes with a Japanese whaler. To be taken seriously, she cut off her long blonde hair (which she had made into wigs for kiddies undergoing chemotherapy), marched up the gangplank and asked for a job - any job. She was THRILLED to have a job at last with Greenpeace - as a garbologist, sorting the rubbish! Whenever and wherever her Greenpeace ship docked, she would go ashore with her football and soon have a game going with the local people - her own personal form of communication with people of all languages. She was regularly seen in the last two months in the Amazon raising a game with the local children.

In the years that followed, her family and many friends followed her via the internet - relieved that by the time Greenpeace actions were posted, the greatest danger was over. She studied hard to learn about the essential equipment on board to eventually become Radio Operator, where she was the smooth voice on the other end of the line calling her fellow campaigners us home after along day chained to an anchor or investigations in the field.

She never missed a chance to brighten others lives. "How are you?" someone would ask her over the line. "All the better for hearing your lovely voice," she would reply.

There are cherished photos of her with Russian children after planting trees in a vast concrete estate, in her protective chemical suit, and with the people of Papua, New Guinea and many more. Everyone held their breath during the whaling campaigns and when she sat in a small dingy in the path of an American missile being tested and during all the bold, courageous campaigns in her four years with Greenpeace.

She was passionate about Greenpeace, so happy to be a part of this organisation which shared her beliefs, was bold enough to go out there and protest; fight for our world and those who cannot fight for themselves.

Emily was a bright, shiny person who brought love and happiness into anyone's life that she touched. Passionate, strong and determined, with a healthy and well-developed sense of natural justice, and a desire to stand-up for those who have no voice, or cannot defend themselves.

Emily died in the most beautiful place on Earth that she had ever seen, and in her years of sailing the world with Greenpeace, she saw much. She wrote of the Amazon in a crew web diary in November of this year:

"When you imbibe all the beauty here you cannot help but pray to Gaia or God to protect this area. This is to me how the Amazon should be, lots of trees overhanging the river and heaving with bounty. Not the deforested naked grasslands we have been seeing too much of during this trip. We need to ensure that this way of life is passed on for more generations to come."

For all of us who remain, and all of us who were touched by Emily's life, her words are emblematic of the love and hope she inspired.


A collection of Emily's weblogs and writings:

Now we are in the Amazon wow! There are so many trees to hug I don't know how I am going to do any radio work.

Amazon tour, November 2003


When we sail past plumes of smoke rising from the jungle I feel like we are witnessing the funeral of another hectare of trees in a land that can not afford to lose any more to illegal logging. There are a one hundred and seventy Indian nationalities and one thousand species of birds that we know of living here. The illegal logging, the soya plantations, cattle ranching and road building are making them all slowly but steadily homeless. I don't want to show my future grandchildren pictures of how wonderful the Amazon was. I want them to be able to see it with their own eyes.

Amazon tour weblog, November 10 2003


Later this evening we received a call on the VHF radio to say that an empty logging barge was on its way to our ship and it had fifteen angry loggers on board. My heart fell in to my shoes. We have had extensive security training on board and I trust all the crew around me to take sensible decisions, yet the not knowing is terrifying. An armed attack against our ship is a distinct possibility. We are highly unpopular and this is not a place where disagreements are solved by a meeting around a table.

Amazon tour weblog, November 27 2003


Give people some hope for their children, for these children have the widest smiles I have ever seen. There are injustices all over the world every day but you have the chance to be part of the team working here for better futures for the people of Pára through the extractive reserve - Resex.

Send a letter to the government, become a cyber activist or just promise yourself to be an informed eco-consumer of Forest Stewardship Council™ timber. If you cannot get FSC® wood where you are then get on the case! You might think it is not worth it, that your small voice does not matter, but I tell you that Mora and family will appreciate it when they can retain their livelihood and keep the lungs of the world breathing.

Amazon tour weblog November 27 2003

More tributes

Read the many lovely comments left at Emily's tribute site.