'He stood up for what's right': Tributes paid to ex-councillor who campaigned tirelessly for Romford swimming pool
- Credit: Colette Butt
An amateur boxer, ex-professional footballer and former Havering councillor who "got things done" has died aged 80.
Father-of-two Eamonn Mahon died on March 28 after suffering from a short illness.
It was the same date his wife Brenda died 21 years ago.
The 80-year-old was born in Ireland as one of seven children, two of which survive him, but he lived in Romford for around 42 years and began his working life as a plasterer.
According to his daughter Colette Butt, who lives in Collier Row, Eamonn was a former professional footballer who played for Coventry and an amateur boxer in his younger years.
The 46-year-old said he was known in the community for “getting things done regardless of political interest”.
She said Eamonn was a “hard-working” man who was “passionate about social issues and had a great sense of humour”.
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“He was approachable and nothing was ever too much for him,” added Colette.
But he was perhaps best known for his campaigning to get a swimming pool in Romford.
He “felt there should be more for teenagers and children in the area", Colette said.
In council meetings, Eamonn first displayed a placard reading: “Romford residents demand a swimming pool for Romford."
However, he was asked to take it down or face a ban from the chamber's public gallery - so instead, he had the message printed onto a white t-shirt to wear.
Eamonn "always had a way of getting his point across and he wanted to achieve the best he could for Havering”, Colette added.
Following his campaign, the Sapphire Ice and Leisure Centre opened in 2018, four years after the council’s initial estimates.
In a letter published by the Recorder at that time, a Pete Bailey of Poplar Street said: “Perhaps after all efforts, the leisure centre should really be called The Mahon Leisure Centre.”
He had previously begun a career at Havering Council in 1998, when he was elected as a Labour councillor for Brooklands ward.
Throughout his life he was a member of many groups, including Central Romford Community Area Forum.
In 2002 Eamonn quit Labour due to a disagreement over budget proposals, and he went on to form and become chairman of the Brooklands Residents’ Association.
He stood in elections in 2002 and 2006 as an independent candidate, and again in 2010 and 2014 for Labour, but he was not elected on those occasions.
Colette said: “He was passionate about helping people and really enjoyed getting things done.”
The 46-year-old added: “He’s been a doting grandad to my two children [Amber, 18, and Luke, 14].
“He was quite a character and was always sociable and had a good sense of humour.”
Eamonn stood up for justice, Colette said, and in 2011 he criticised the council’s decision to move residents to the balcony at the town hall, instead of the public gallery, saying the "whole thing is democracy gone mad.”
Colette said: “He always stood up for what was right and he was proud of what he had achieved.
“Dad taught me to be passionate and achieve what you set your mind to, by never giving up.
“He will be missed so much; he was like my rock really and was always there for advice and guidance.”
His son, Eamonn Mahon, 49, said: “He was a great dad who loved his family.
“A great believer in helping people who needed it.”
He is survived by his five grandchildren and two sisters - Theresa Lawlor and Claire Rossiter - and his children Colette and Eamonn.
Eamonn’s funeral was held on April 21 at the Catholic Parish of Corpus Christi church in Collier Row.
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