Jo is a long standing West PierTrust Board member. Adam Trimingham, who also serves on our Board and a well-known local journalist, wrote the following article which appeared in today’s Argus
The widow of a man blinded during the Second World War on the West Pier in Brighton is still determined that it should be rebuilt.
Jo Revis, 90, who lives in Oxford is a member of the Brighton West Pier Trust’s board and attends nearly every meeting despite living many miles from the sea. Her husband Ken, who died aged 84 in 2002, lost his eyesight while defusing mines on the pier but with the help of Jo went on to have a fulfilling career over almost 60 years. Ken became a representative of St Dunstan’s charity for the blind in India, and served as a press officer for Morris Motors. He qualified as a solicitor, went beagling, learned to water-ski and flew a glider. He became one of the first people to join the campaign to save the West Pier when it was threatened with partial demolition 40 year ago.
“People say that I should hate the place,” he would say. “I can’t explain why I keep going back. I suppose it’s the last thing I saw.”
Ken Revis, an expert on explosives, joined the Royal Engineers on the outbreak of war. He defused his first German bomb in a garden at Hastings
and dealt with hundreds more. In September 1943 it was decided that the Germans were not going to invade, and Revis was asked to “delouse”
the two piers at Brighton, which had been mined by the engineers of Canadian 1st Division at the beginning of the war. He had no difficulty with the Palace Pier, and then approached the West Pier by rowing boat. Avoiding the ladder, he climbed up the diagonal crossbracings and, with the aid of a map, defused six mines.
“It’s money for old rope, this,” Revis remarked to his corporal. Then 13 mines went up in a flash.
Ken Revis underwent 20 operations but was totally blinded by the explosions. He counted himself lucky to be alive.
After working for St Dunstan’s in India, he was offered a job by Lord Nuffield at Cowley Motors in Oxford, which employed more than 200 handicapped workers. He later qualified as a solicitor.
Ken Revis never missed an opportunity to publicise the pier and the work being done to restore it.
Jo took him to meetings of the Trust and eventually was asked to join the board herself. They were married for more than 60 years.
She said: “My knees are not too good but my brain is fine and I attend every meeting I can. I think it was becoming impossible to
restore the old pier and I am completely in favour of the current plans.”
Permission has been granted for the i360 observation tower at the shore end which the Trust hopes will lead to the rebuilding of the pier.
Jo said: “Ken really loved the pier even though he was blinded there and I do too. It is a most beautiful piece of engineering.”
“Even though I live a long way from Brighton, I am always delighted to see it and do what I
can to help.”
Trust chief executive Rachel Clark said: “Jo is a remarkable person. Her commitment to the Trust and contribution to the Board are greatly appreciated by us all.”