Tributes paid to former leader of Wakefield Conservatives Mark Crowther

Mark Crowther
Mark Crowther

Tributes have been paid to the former leader of Wakefield's Conservative group, Mark Crowther, who has died at the age of 54.

Mr Crowther passed away on January 3 after what his family called "a long, courageous and stoic journey".

In a statement, they added: "He was a devoted family man who worshipped his wife Susan and daughter Georgina.

"Mark made such a difference to many peoples lives and will be sadly missed."

Mr Crowther was voted in as a representative for Pontefract South in 2008, before becoming the party's leader in the council chamber the following year.

Under his leadership, the Tories controlled 24 of the council's 63 seats - more than they have had in Wakefield at any time in the 21st century, and more than twice the number they have today.

Outside of politics, he ran his own business as a management consultant.

Current Conservative leader Nadeem Ahmed said he would remember Mr Crowther as a man of "good values".

"Mark was a family man and he was meticulous in everything he did," Coun Ahmed said.

"I found out he was ill a few months ago, and so I got in touch with him and he seemed in good spirits.

"We need more good people in politics and he was one of those."

Mr Crowther lost his seat in 2012 as the party lost nine Wakefield seats in one night at the local elections.

Coun Monica Graham, who succeeded him as leader before stepping down two years later, also paid her respects, saying: "I knew Mark for quite a few years, and always admired him for his calm manner and determination.

“He was a very nice man, but at the same time he could always command control of his party.”

Antony Calvert, who worked closely with Mr Crowther when he stood as a parliamentary candidate for Morley and Outwood in 2010, said the former leader had been influential within the party.

"From a political perspective Mark was extremely successful, and from a personal perspective he was a good mate," Mr Calvert said.

“He was very determined, and approached his battle with illness with the same courage he took on his political opponents with. He will be sadly missed."

Phil Booth, the chairman of the Pontefract Conservative Association, said: "Mark was a pleasure to know. He got on with everybody.

"He'd been ill for about five years and he was determined he was going to beat it. It's a very sad loss."

Labour paid their respects too, with council leader Peter Box calling him a "dedicated" public servant.

He said: "We are saddened to hear that former councillor, Mark Crowther, has passed away.

"Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this very sad and difficult time."

Mr Crowther's funeral will take place at St Giles' Church in Pontefract on January 17 at 12.30pm.