David Solly 1956 – 2020
This page is dedicated to the memory of David Solly, the founding member of TVPS. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today and the support offered to so many positive people may not have been possible.
He was an absolute inspiration and we will miss our founder and friend.
David and Irene Solly
Sean Wheeler – Chair of TVPS
“David was an active member of the TVPS board for many years, leading it through a lot of change and challenges with focus and commitment. I had the honour of working with him on the board and always admired his drive to support our clients changing needs. He will always be remembered for what he has achieved for TVPS – RIP David”
Sarah Macadam – CEO
“David will always be remembered for his passion, drive and determination. He was never afraid to speak up on the injustices experienced by those living with HIV and, as one of the founder members of our organisation, always worked so hard to ensure TVPS offered the best care to anyone living in Berkshire. Even after moving away to Cornwall he continued to attend our trustee meetings and produce our newsletter until ill health forced him to take life more slowly. He’ll be best remembered for his sense of humour and forthright opinions – both of which occasionally got him into trouble – but both characteristics were often a huge asset to TVPS especially when facing the many challenges of running a small charity. We’ll miss you David – TVPS wouldn’t be here without you so thank you for making such a huge difference to so many peoples lives.”
“He lived his younger life in Bracknell. Eventually moving to Ragstone road, Slough, where he managed to get a full size “Dr Who police box” into his garden.
He spent alot of his working life at ‘Racal’ as a exhibition designer 1973 – 1992.
He was a founding member and trustee of Thames valley positive support 1986 – 2014.
His mother Irene use to help out providing meals at the centre, sadly Irene passed away in april 2011 .
David and his partner Bill moved to Bodmin, Cornwall in February 2001, and use to help out at Bethany until its closure. So they decided to set up a help group Kps which eventually led to the opening of Trebullom around 2011 for respite, retreat, training and housing solutions. Bill died at home of cancer November 2008 .
David died at Truro hospital on 29th December 2020 , 64 years old. Sadly missed by us all.”
“Very sad news. David helped me with my benefits in April 1998 and he did all he could nothing was any trouble and went out of his way. RIP David you will be greatly missed and always remembered in all you had lived and done x”
“It is with great sadness that I heard from a fellow chair of the ASG ,Andrew Mcdonnell that David had died in December. I joined the AIDS support group in 1988 and remained a volunteer for 12 years. David was our shining light, he drove the group forward and never flagged in his dedication. But there were many lighter moments too, like the time he brought a Rolls Royce which we loved riding in and getting totally inebriated one Christmas day.
To be part of that time was an honour, to fundraise and buddy , to do anything to help anyone who found they were HIV positive helped me overcome depression and gave me lifelong friends. I was very friendly with his dear Mother, she made lovely cakes and we had lots of good times at her home and the centre, when she died David had white doves released after the service. I hope in time we can celebrate his life as he has done for so many others. Thank you Sean and Sarah for continuing his work.”
If you would like to make a donation in David’s memory, please make it to Kernow Positive Support (KPS)
If you would like to share any stories, memories or messages of condolence, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Our resident blogger, Positive Pete, interviewed David in 2014 for TVPS’ 30th anniversary and we wanted to share David, in his own words, with you.
Positive Pete meets with TVPS Founder
In April 2014 I travelled down to Cornwall for a respite break at the KPS Trebullom Respite Centre. It was there that I met David Solly, a legend in UK HIV support campaigning, who was not only involved in the establishment of TVPS, but also of the KPS Trebullom Respite Centre in Cornwall, where he is the volunteer manager.
Although, not in the best of health, and suffering terribly from Peripheral Neuropathy – the curse of being long-termed diagnosed – he agreed to be interviewed for the TVPS 30th Anniversary publication. The interview went something like this:
David, tell me about your background
“Well, I was born in London in 1956, adopted in 1957, and brought up by my adopted mother (Irene) and father (Harry) Irene was a great support to me after my father died, and when TVPS was set up she was the first volunteer cook at the Burnham Centre (Slough). She died in 2011.
I went to primary school in South London, before we moved to Bracknell in Berkshire in 1969. I attended secondary school there, leaving in 1974. I then worked for a marine company who specialised in making a certain type of steering wheel for boats. When the owner died the company was wound up and we were all made redundant.
I then got a job with Racal Electronics, working in their Publicity Department, ending up as a Designer of Exhibition Stands, Reception areas and in charge of corporate signage for buildings and their large fleet of vehicles. Vodafone was originally a part of the Racal Group, and I got to travel the world over a 20 year period, designing and setting up company receptions and corporate signage and exhibitions. I travelled to the America’s, Europe, Russia, China, Japan, India, Pakistan and Iraq before the Gulf War and the Middle East including North Africa.
My work was rewarding and I was generally quite happy during the 1980’s, living with my partner Roger Davenport. I remember first becoming aware of HIV/Aids in 1983 when I saw a Horizon programme on TV, “The Killer in the Village”. This was a report from the USA and initially I was dismissive about it ever becoming a major health problem in the UK.
However, in 1985 Roger came home one day looking devastated. He had taken one of the first Aids tests and had been told he was HTVLIII-positive (the original name for HIV). I was shocked and started to worry about my own condition. Did I have it? I didn’t pluck up the courage to take the test until the following year- 1986. My worst fears were confirmed. After that Roger threw himself into HIV/Aids research and set up an HIV Awareness and Support Group. Roger and I separated after 8 years and I found a new partner, who was also HIV+.
In 1991 my partner, John, died of an Aids related condition, and I was made redundant from work in 1992. I believe this was a consequence of them finding out about the reason for his death and were worried that I might have Aids too. I challenged them on the real reason for my being made redundant. Although they did not admit openly to it, they did increase my redundancy payment marginally, just to get me out the door. I accepted and left without a fuss. I subsequently met Kevin and we lived together for 3 years, before he also sadly died of an Aids related condition in 1995.
Despite knowing my status, I did nothing about monitoring my condition, almost living in denial for many years after. In fact, I only started treatment in 2001, and have suffered terribly with peripheral neuropathy for the last 5 years and have had PCP on two occasions, now taking a high dosage of strong pain killers in an attempt to manage the pain.”
Tell me about how TVPS came into being?
“1985 saw the start of the journey which has now lead to 30 years of continuous HIV/Aids awareness and support work in the Thames Valley area. The Reading Area Aids Support Group, set up in 1985, set into motion what has today become known as TVPS. They provided a telephone help line called AIDSLINE, hardship funding, and a buddy (befriender) support system. At the time they were established there were only a few HIV+ clients.
In 1987 Roger called a meeting at a pub in Windsor, ‘The Noah’s Ark’, to set up the Aids Support Group (Slough/Windsor). Then in January 1988, Roger and I met with the Reading Area Aids Support Group, represented by a volunteer called Mary Mantell, and a couple of other volunteers. As a result of this meeting a new group was established – Reading Body Positive – later to become Thames Valley Body Positive. Reading Body Positive was based on the model of the UK’s first support group – Body Positive – set up in London in 1985.
Around 1993 there was talk of merging the various support groups into one. Mary Mantell of Reading Body Positive contacted Roger and together they set up Thames Valley Body Positive (TVBP) which was the fore-runner to TVPS. Sadly, Roger died in 1993, and I continued to help with the formation of TVPS as a way to honour his memory. The rationale for merging was to make it easier to source funding and to provide more effective support services for those with HIV throughout the Thames Valley.
In 1993 TVBP took out a lease on a house on the Bath Road, between Slough and Burnham, which continues to be the base for TVPS today. In 1994 TVBP, The Aids Support Group (Slough/Windsor) and West Berkshire Aids Support Group merged to form Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS).
Our first paid worker for TVBP was Mary Mantell, the volunteer supporter from Reading Area AIDS support group (RAAGS) who helped set up Reading Body Positive that became Thames Valley Body Positive (TVBP). After she left it was Richard Hawkes, who went on to become a Social Worker for Reading Council. We also employed a part-time worker called Angela. Both Richard and Angela went from our office in Slough (109a Windsor Road) to the Burnham Centre in 1994 when TVBP took on the house in which TVPS still resides. After the merger with The AIDS Support Group (Slough/Windsor) their paid worker Janet joined Richard and Angela.
I became a trustee of Thames Valley Positive Support (TVPS) after the merger when the new charity formed. There was a mix of trustees from TVBP and the AIDS Support Group (Slough/Windsor). Later in the year the Reading (RAAGS) group joined the merger. The trustees were appointed as a steering committee for the newly formed group to smooth the transition as it was unique as the first charity in the UK to merge an Aids Support Group with a Body Positive Group. Body Positive Groups were run by positive people for positive people, whereby, AIDS Support Groups were mainly people not HIV-positive, people that knew family, friends and partners who were diagnosed positive providing support to positive people aka buddies, carers, helpline staff etc.
I was Chair of the Thames Valley Body Positive Group for 3 years. When I became a trustee of TVPS (several 3 year terms – in those days you served 3 years then had to stand down for one year before you could be nominated to become a trustee again) I only served as the General Secretary, and never wanted the responsibility of Chairship. I was involved in many aspects of policy and developing guidelines to ensure the charity abided to charity at law. I was involved in information literature and newsletters, as well as my duties as a trustee.”
What did you do after leaving TVPS?
“In 1999 I attended a respite break in Cornwall, provided by the Bethany Trust. It was here that I met Bill Sloan, and we became partners, eventually moving to Cornwall in 2001. We became volunteers for Bethany until its sad dissolution in 2003.
Like many of those who were involved in and stayed at the popular and well respected respite centre, Bill and I were devastated by its closure. Like so many HIV support organisations at this time, Bethany was struggling to survive, and many other support charities were forced to close during this period.
I firmly believe that a majority of funding bodies, with the advent of better treatment and the fact that people now lived longer, felt that HIV funding could be streamlined. Certainly, the need for peer support, drop-in, retreat and respite services were felt by some to be no longer needed as much as they had in those early days of uncertainty and high death toll. Sadly, as a consequence of these new medical developments, the HIV community is growing with fewer services available. I feel this is short-sighted, taking into account the ever increasing rates of infection, added to the medical and social challenges facing those living with HIV infection.
After the closure of the Bethany Trust, Bill and I looked into what support and social care was available in Cornwall. There were only two charities located in Exeter and Plymouth, and excellent clinical services at the Royal Cornwall Hospital (GUM Unit) and Derriford Hospital in Devon. However, there was not much in the way of support in the West of Cornwall.
Kernow Positive Support (KPS) was launched on 4th February 2004 and attained charitable status in July. We wanted to develop HIV support services within the county of Cornwall after the dissolution of the Bethany Trust (Bodmin), and the closure of the Cornwall AIDS Council in 2003, and our ultimate vision was to bringing back a national HIV respite and retreat service into the country.
Sadly, Bill Sloan passed away in November 2008 and never got the chance to see our vision become a reality. I hope his legacy and aspirations continue to live through the new KPS Trebullom; Respite Centre, which opened in April 2011. This is a Grade II listed farm house near Launceston in North Cornwall. It has become our national residential retreat, respite, education and training centre, including a temporary accommodation solution for those within the Southwest peninsula with housing related needs.
I continue to volunteer at KPS Trebullom, managing the facility and fighting for funding. KPS receives funding support from the Cornwall Primary Care Trust and Cornwall Council, and recently won funding from the Big Lottery Fund for our Enabling Futures Project. Hopefully, we can continue to provide support for those living with HIV in Cornwall, and a respite, retreat and education facility countrywide. The continuation and sustainability of this facility will very much depend on the HIV community as a whole, ‘If the community don’t use it, we will lose it’ which will be a great sadness in an uncertain future and the every-changing face of HIV.”