We are very sorry to have to report that Councillor Ray Hassall, Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham passed away at his home on the evening of Thursday 9 March, aged 74. Cllr Hassall was a longstanding member of Sutton Coldfield and Erdington Liberal Democrats.
Councillor Hassall had undergone major heart surgery at the end of last year but appeared to be recovering well and had begun to resume his duties gradually as a Ward Councillor for Perry Barr. His sudden death has stunned his friends and colleagues.
Councillor Hassall served as Lord Mayor from May 2015 to May 2016, following which he served as Deputy Lord Mayor until his death.
Ray Hassall had been a Councillor for Perry Barr since 1990. He always made himself available to local residents, gaining a reputation of being seen walking around the streets to meet local residents. Ray said he found this invaluable because he got to know at first hand the issues in the area. Ray served on just about every council committee there was in his 27 years on the council and was also a leading figure in the West Midlands Local Government Association. In addition Ray helped to establish various community based organisations which are still operational today. He was particularly pleased with the services provided locally by Age Concern because of the area's large elderly population.
Local campaigner Ann Holtom said: "Ray was a great friend and Councillor and loved by many people and he helped us a lot in our campaigns. Ray will be greatly missed. I remember most his great sense of humour and his amusing speeches about Sir Albert Bore and Labour in the chamber that had us in stitches. A totally genuine guy."
His fellow Perry Barr councillors, Jon Hunt and Karen Trench have also paid tribute to Ray, praising his 30 years of campaigning and service to the community and his great friendship. Cllr Ray Hassall was a unique character who will be missed by many, many people.