A PIVOTAL figure in Oxfordshire’s Community Action Group network and the county’s environmental movement has died aged 77.

John Keith Gordon, who died last month, served as a UNESCO ambassador and worked as a diplomat across Europe.

Upon his retirement he committed himself to environmentalism and became a key member of a wide range of groups and organisations.

Mr Gordon was born on July 6, 1940, to Professor James Edward Gordon and Theodora Gordon.

He was educated at Marlborough College and Cambridge University, where he obtained a first class degree in history.

Mr Gordon went on to research at Yale University and the London School of Economics before joining the the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1966.

He served in Budapest, Geneva, Yaoundé, Moscow and Brussels before being appointed UK Permanent Delegate to UNESCO in 1983.

A fluent Russian speaker, his work as a diplomat led him support the management of the consequences of the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 – an experience that helped shape his future environmental work.

Mr Gordon was a founder member of the UK UNESCO Forum, formed as an umbrella group to represent civil society

The UK National Commission for UNESCO was eventually established in 2004, and Mr Gordon was an active member from 2004 to 2007, focusing in particular on UNESCO’s role in promoting peace and security.

After retiring in 1990, Mr Gordon moved into work on social and environmental justice.

He was a principled internationalist with a commitment to humanity, often seen campaigning on a Saturday morning in Wallingford's market place.

Mr Gordon is described as somebody with a remarkable amount of energy and ability to tackle large volumes of work.

He was an active member of Oxfordshire’s branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and a founder member of the Need Not Greed Oxfordshire coalition.

Mr Gordon was also a member of Sustainable Wallingford and the chairman of South Oxfordshire Sustainability.

Retaining the skills of diplomacy he had utilised in his working life, Mr Gordon’s strength lay in building alliances between organisations, such as drawing together Thames Water and South Oxfordshire District Council to work on the increased threat of flooding.

He was also known for his relentless powers of persuasion and drive to reach the right outcome.

Mr Gordon, who lived in Wallingford, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017 but, despite battling the illness for six months, his passion for the environment did not dim.

He used the time to write his memoirs but would also seek out updates from South Oxfordshire Sustainability.

Despite all the many facets to Mr Gordon, he is perhaps best remembered for his warmth, manner, and way with conversation.

Mr Gordon died peacefully at home on February 2.

He is survived by his wife Elizabeth and their sons Tim and Alex.