A tribute to our dear friend and colleague, Graham Walton (1944 – 2019)
It is with tremendous sadness that we pay tribute to Graham who sadly passed away aged 74 on Thursday 25thApril.
As we stand in condolence with Graham’s family and all of those across the council and borough who knew and worked with him, we do so with a sense of pride; remembering a wonderful family man who demonstrated unparalleled passion and determination to improve his beloved local community and the lives of the residents he represented.
Graham was devoted to his family and leaves behind his wife, Karen and their three children Brett, Faye and David.
A proud Prestonian, Graham grew up in the Deepdale area of Preston and completed his secondary education at the Harris Technical College where he was to achieve the coveted accolade of Head Boy.
A keen sportsman, Graham was an accomplished footballer and boxer. He talked about his sporting past in an interview from 2014:
“It had always been my dream to be a professional footballer,” he said. “I was signed to Preston North End when I was 14 years old and I played for Preston School Boys, Lancashire School Boys and England Amateurs.
“I was also a good boxer and in 1961 I became the British Welterweight Sea Cadet Champion at the Royal Albert Hall and won a trophy bigger than the FA Cup!
“My dad however, insisted that I go to college and get a trade under my belt so that I had something to fall back on, and he turned out to be absolutely right as I suffered a terrible ankle injury in my early 20s.”
Following the injury which unfortunately ended Graham’s sporting career, he began his working life as an apprentice mechanical engineer with English Electrical, a career which took him around the world – with long stints in Canada and America.
He and his wife Karen were married in August 1979; moving to Farington West and starting a family in 1981. He has run his own building and roofing business in the local area for over 30 years.
His over decade-long tenure in public service began in 2007 when Graham was elected Councillor for Farington East. He was then elected as Councillor for Farington West in 2011 which he served for seven years, campaigning for re-election at the time of his tragic passing.
A dedicated and passionate local Councillor, Graham was well respected by his peers. Leader of the South Ribble Conservative Group, Councillor Margaret Smith said, “Graham Walton was a valued member of the Conservative Party and it’s with great sadness that we pay tribute to him today.
“Graham was a dear friend and colleague to many. He had a warm heart and generous nature and he was always willing to help and to provide advice.
“He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Karen and her family.”
Graham also served as Councillor for Farington Parish Council since 2007 and was Chairperson twice in this time. He was also heavily involved as Chair of My Neighbourhood Central Forum which brings together improvement projects with the input and involvement of the local community.
Councillor Paul Foster, Leader of the South Ribble Labour Group said, “Graham was really well respected across the Council Chambers by all members, and there are many of us within the Labour Group that shared tales with him most weeks when our paths crossed.
“Many colleagues considered Graham to be a friend, and he was one of the easiest people to get on with.
“To say we are shocked and deeply saddened by the awful news would be an understatement, and we cannot come to begin to comprehend how terribly sad Karen and his family must feel.
“Graham was a gentleman and we will all miss him terribly. Our fondest love to his wife Karen and family. May he rest in peace.”
In 2013, Graham was elected Deputy Mayor of South Ribble for Councillor Dorothy Gardner and undertook the role himself in 2014. He said when he was elected: “It is a huge honour to be chosen as the new Mayor for South Ribble.
“That is the one thing that I am truly looking forward to– getting out and meeting different groups, organisations and residents from right across South Ribble and seeing the wonderful work that they do.”
Speaking about his role, he said: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that one day I would be chosen to be Mayor and I just wish that my mother and father were still here to see it as they would have been extremely proud.”
During his tenure as Mayor, Graham with his wife Karen as Mayoress tirelessly worked to serve the community supporting charities St Catherine’s Hospice, the North West Air Ambulance and Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Councillor David Howarth, Leader of the South Ribble Liberal Democrats Group said, “It was very shocking to learn of the sudden passing of Graham Walton. Graham was always affable and we often chatted together after meetings.
“He not only served his local residents in Farington, but the borough as a whole both as the Mayor and as the holder of a challenging cabinet portfolio. It was a pleasure to serve with him in committee, and he will be sadly missed. Our condolences go out to both Karen and his family.”
Graham was a truly wonderful man who will be greatly missed by the many people who knew, worked with him or were lucky enough to consider him a friend.
Our thoughts are with Graham’s family at this difficult time and as we mourn our great loss, Graham’s incredible legacy will live on.
His work, passion and utmost dedication to the community and residents he served has allowed the areas in which he worked to flourish and we are in no doubt that the incredible accomplishments he has achieved will lay the foundations for a continually thriving community.