Warm tributes have been paid from across the Grangetown community and also from political colleagues and opponents across Cardiff after the sudden death of Councillor Chris Lomax, at the age of 73.
Chris was also the long-standing chair of Grangetown Community Action (previously Grangetown Community Concern), a champion of local causes, especially involving the elderly, but was also at the helm in a difficult transition in the wake of city-wide financial cuts as the voluntary group looked to become more project-focused in recent years.
He remained a dedicated and hard-working councillor despite recent ill-health and attended the council’s planning committee earlier this week. He was taken ill again on Thursday, shortly before GCA’s AGM was due to take place.
On a personal level, Chris was friendly, warm and cheerful, always very approachable to residents. He chaired GCA meetings with a light touch and the ability to listen to others, but was always forceful and passionate about the causes he believed in – and certainly battled in Grangetown’s corner when it was needed.
He didn’t wallow in the past either and knew when it was time for Community Concern to move with the times, with a new name and taking the best of the old while embracing the new; he welcomed and encouraged new blood – and took on board new technology himself (his laptop and was even getting the hang of Twitter).
Over the last couple of years Chris would have taken quiet satisfaction and some pride in seeing his grandson Ashley work alongside him as secretary of the group and start to make his own impact locally.
Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty (pictured above with Chris at the 2015 Grangetown Festival) said: “Devastated today to hear of death of friend and local Labour colleague Cllr Chris Lomax. Thoughts and prayers with all family and friends.”
Fellow Grangetown councillors also paid tribute. Ashley Govier said Chris had “fulfilled his dream in representing Grangetown. He will be sorely missed by us all”. Lynda Thorne praised his dedication and said he was “so proud of being a councillor and representing Grangetown”.
Council leader Phil Bale said he worked “incredibly hard” but also paid tribute to the “great family man.” Fellow Labour councillor Sarah Merry called him “a warm lovely man who cared so much about his area,” while Gretta Marshall called him a “true gentleman.”
Lib Dem councillor Joe Boyle added: “In all my dealings with him, he was a kind, decent and gentle man”.
Plaid Cymru postponed local election campaigning for the weekend with local candidate Dafydd Trystan saying: “Very sad to hear the news about Chris Lomax. A great servant to the Grangetown community – my condolences to all his family and friends.”
Grandson Ashley Lister, secretary of Grangetown Community Action, paid an especially moving tribute saying he was “my grandfather, my councillor, my mentor but most importantly, my friend.”
Although Chris was born in Tenby, he spent most of his life in Grangetown, which was etched into his soul. He went to the old Cardiff College of Food Technology and worked as a baker for many years, including for Avana in Grangetown. He also spent six years as a milkman and also in procurement for the local health trust at the Heath before his retirement. He had been an active member of the Labour since the 1970s and a trades union member since the 1960s.
Condolences to his children and grandchildren.