This is one Obituary that I had hoped I would never have to write, but alas, writing I must it now with deep sadness...
Tom Odley, a tireless fighter for the rights of the Romani People, and recently Press & Media Officer to the Gypsy Union, as well as its Deputy General Secretary; Press & Media Officer to the International Romani Guild and an Elder on the presidium; as well as Deputy Director General of the Romani Institute, passed away on December 9, 2007, having just passed his 78th birthday, after having suffered a heart attack a couple of days prior.
Tom, was born on the Isle Of Sheppey, in Kent, England, during 1929, of ‘Nidi’ (Romanichal) descent. He served close to 12years in the Royal Air Force, as a Physical Training/Parachute Jumping Instructor.
Along with his late Beloved Romni, Rose, Tom helped raised ten children.
During the many years spent ‘Po Drom’ with his Family, and since settling down, following the tragic loss of his much-loved wife, Rose, as a result of a fire in their trailer-home, Tom has struggled for the rights of his People, the Rom.
Having a pleasant singing voice, and being a lover of ‘words’, Tom has employed his talents to promote the Romani Cause.
Angered by “The Gypsy Industry” and its exploitation of his fellow Rom, for personal, academic, and political gain by some within the (so-called) “Support” groups, (both Gohja and Rom), Tom was instrumental in the establishment of The British Rommani Union, and, for many years acted as its General Secretary.
Tom has attended and participated in very many conferences and meetings, throughout Europe, and has been responsible for many communications with British Governmental Departments.
Aware of the truism that; “The pen is mightier than the sword”, Tom has used his poetry in attempts to convey to the Gohja, some of the emotions that rise within the Romani People as a result of their mistreatment within Gohja society.
Tom struggled for the rights of the Romani People right till the last days of his life, basically, having been so-founder and officer of the International Romani Guild, the Gypsy Union and the Romani Institute, and having worked on a number of projects until the day he was taken ill.
Amaro Kako Tom will be sadly missed by us all but I, for one, promise that he shall never be forgotten.
Rest in Peace, Amaro Kako.
Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007