Real lives: ‘Bubbly’ Nikki devoted her life to helping tenants

Nikki Thomson, development worker with Edinburgh Tenants Federation and Liberal Democrat activist, has died, aged 44.

Born in Penicuik, Nikki moved to England as a child and was educated there, but returned to Scotland ten years ago to take up her job with Edinburgh Tenants Federation (ETF).

Betty Stevenson, ETF convener, recalls: “She was like a breath of fresh air. She was the last person we interviewed and we knew right away she was the one.”

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Her role saw her helping to set up tenants’ groups across the city and getting people involved. Ms Stevenson said: “Nikki was at the forefront of tenant participation in Scotland. She was wholly committed and passionate about tenants being actively involved to influence change.”

In 2010, she was seconded from ETF to work with the city council on new energy initiatives.

Ms Stevenson said: “After eight years as development worker, Nikki felt she needed a new challenge and the council offered her a secondment to work with them on the new district heating scheme.

“It was not an area she had worked in before, but Nikki being Nikki, she just took the bull by the horns and got stuck in. Her easy way with people and brilliant project management skills meant it was a role she flourished in. She knew how to work with people, she was such a bubbly person.”

Cathy King, the council’s head of housing and regeneration said: “Nikki worked tirelessly to make things better for tenants. We were very lucky that she put her considerable energy and intelligence into improving tenants’ lives. Through all her work, she improved the lives of many people. Her role was to challenge us on tenants’ behalf and she did it with good will and humour. She was respected and loved and will be sadly missed.”

Nikki played a leading role in organising the annual Meadows Festival. She sang with the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, which took her to the Royal Albert Hall to take part in the BBC Proms.

And she was a lifelong Liberal Democrat. Lib Dem blogger Caron Lindsay recalls her successfully proposing a conference motion committing the party not to use Nestlé products in headquarters in protest at the way the firm marketed its baby milk in Africa.

Ms Lindsay added: “She was a warm, funny woman who did so much for her community and to help other people.”

Nikki had been unwell for some time, but her cancer was diagnosed only a few weeks before her death.

UK Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron is among those who have paid tribute. He wrote: “Very, very sad news. In the days when young Lib Dems and Lib Dems students were separate entities she was an enthusiastic and effective link. I was very fond of her. A proper radical. The party is poorer without her.”