Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 18th December 2019

Geraint Thomas was one of the kindest, most dedicated men I’ve ever met. He was committed to his principles, to his town, but most of all to his family.

The grief expressed across the community since his passing is testament to the void he leaves in Crawley, the town he lived in his entire life.

Geraint spent over three decades teaching at local schools and former students always remarked on that time fondly. Retiring from teaching he dedicated his time to the local community, representing patients on NHS panels, serving as a school governor, and leading campaigns to protect Ifield Brook Meadows.

I first met Geraint in 2009, spending considerable time with him during his campaign to become a county councillor. While that campaign was unsuccessful, just six months later he joined Crawley Borough Council following a by-election in Northgate, the first Labour councillor for the neighbourhood in decades.

It was in that role I knew him best, after his election he encouraged me to run for council and we spent nine years as ward colleagues in Northgate. He was the most hands-on councillor I’ve ever seen, no problem raised with him was too big or too small.

When he was first elected Barnfield Road Off-License was a derelict with overgrown grounds and he was determined to do something about it. For years he pressured the leaseholder to give up the lease and then pushed the council to convert the land to affordable housing. Today, what was a blot on the landscape is now home for five families.

On the council, Geraint was often responsible for Labour’s most principled acts, the adoption of an ethical investment policy and declaration of a climate emergency stand out as particular achievements amongst many attempts to make his hometown a better, greener, kinder place. Yet despite everything, there was always humility.

There’s too little space to sum up the life of our friend: his love of rugby and cricket, his passion for classical music, his quiet faith. All we can do is be thankful for the time this favourite son of Crawley spent amongst us.

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