Meet Gill

Gill on one of Transition Stroud's e-bikes
Gill Thomas

See below for three things you can do today!

Gill Thomas is a busy bee – she’s a Transition Stroud director and a volunteer for our e-bike scheme… in fact, she wears so many different hats, she could start her own millinery business! We find out what inspires this energetic ‘mouse about town’.

Have you been in Stroud long?

I moved to the Stroud District when my children started school in the area in 2017, before settling in Minchinhampton in 2021. We moved from Cheltenham, having struggled to find the right educational setting. Before I moved to Stroud, I didn't know much about it. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made the move a lot sooner!!

What are you involved in locally?

Gosh, what am I not involved in!! So many exciting projects! As a committee member on the Minchinhampton Community Hub, I have been working hard to bring the new e bike scheme to Minchinhampton. I'm also involved with Parents For Future Stroud, where I’m currently developing a School’s Nature Recovery Network Mapping project in conjunction with Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership. I’m constantly getting involved in local events, such as the MinchCAN Trail and Stroud Imagines Transition, which takes place this Autumn. I also volunteer at local Minchinhampton events, such as their Open Gardens coming up in June.

I regularly involve myself with community engagement work in Minchinhampton, such as Churchyard Tidies with Holy Trinity Church, coffee morning's at George Pearce House, (Stroud’s Independent Living Hub,) visiting elderly residents and helping to resolve local issues. Just last week I was asked to rehome a group of tadpoles! I also support groups across the wider District, including the Heaven's Valley Action Group, the Door and the Long Table.

I enjoy fundraising for local charities. I recently did some bucket shaking on Stroud high street to raise money for the Door, and in March I buggy-ran the Minch 10k with my two year old son, which raised £500 for Horsfall House. I've just signed up to do an Ice Walk for Longfield Hospice! I’m always on the go, and never stop moving. I recently set up a new Minchinhampton running club, which I cohost with personal trainer James Hilton. I’m a true community champion who works extremely hard to help make Minchinhampton and the wider district a greener, cleaner, safer and more inclusive place to live.

One of my biggest passions is environmental education. I do a lot of conservation work with local schools on my 12-acre smallholding in Hyde, engaging children with habitat restoration projects. We’ve planted a new orchard and seeded a new wildflower meadow, in conjunction with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Glorious Cotswold Grasslands. I also engage with schools across the wider District. Projects include a new school community woodland in Chalford and a new school allotment in Oakridge. I’m constantly looking for new initiatives that help schools engage with climate action.

Can you tell us about your family life?

Family life is very busy, but brilliant fun! My kids constantly keep me on my toes! We try to live as sustainably as we can, which isn’t easy in a modern world. We have been plastic free since 2021 and enjoy the health benefits that brings. We have a growing menagerie of animals, including our beloved pig Maureen, Oscar the donkey, ducks, chickens, rabbits and as from next week, a Shetland pony too! We make our own bird food, and our own bird feeders.

We are in the process of remodelling our outdated 1950s bungalow. We are keeping the existing building, which is in itself a great lesson in recycling (all of the demolished walls are going into gabion baskets [the metal mesh baskets seen in landscaping, filled with rocks]), and sandwiching it between two new modern extensions, built from large, prefabricated plywood panels insulated with 400mm of straw.

It’s a building system designed by nature, based on a Cradle to Cradle philosophy, and built to Passive House [Passivhaus] standards. Retrofitting to Passive House standard is notoriously difficult with existing homes. The Passive House standard therefore includes a retrofit standard called EnerPHit, which takes into account the limitations of the existing building. Any house built to that standard will out-perform any new build in terms of energy and comfort.

We are quite literally building our way out of the climate crisis by using plant based materials. Natural materials like straw and wood capture a huge amount of carbon dioxide that is stored inside the structure of the building. We’ve worked out that our new retrofit house will store as much CO2 as 10 trees over 40 years, and will emit 1 ton of CO2 per year. That’s 10 times less than a standard house. Overall, an EcoCocon system has a very low carbon footprint. Just 2.48kg of CO2 is emitted to produce 1m2 of panels. When compared to other common wall types, the difference is staggering.

What inspired you to take an interest in green issues?

I’ve always been extremely passionate about nature. As a child, I would spend all day knee-deep in the village pond catching tadpoles, running around the garden chasing butterflies or collecting conkers from the ancient Horse Chestnut tree on the lane. Since having children of my own, I want to instil in them a similar love for the natural world.

What made you want to become a director at Transition Stroud?

The principles that guide Transition Stroud are very similar to the ones that guide my own life. Being a community-focused group, I felt there was a great opportunity there to further develop the outreach work I was already doing.

I am particularly passionate about engaging with schools on environmental education and climate action. I felt that Transition Stroud could provide me with the right platform to develop that interest further.

Three Things You Can Do Today

  1. Pick up a piece of litter.
  2. Buy one less piece of plastic.
  3. Do something nice for someone else.

Find out about more local Stroud Transitioneers

If you would like to share your sustainable living story, please contact Josephine on