Tributes have been paid to the serving Mayor of Wolverhampton and one of city’s “favourite sons”, Cllr Elias Mattu, following the sad news of his death at the age of 59.
Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Cllr Roger Lawrence, said: “Elias was my friend and a loyal, dedicated and loving family man. On behalf of the City of Wolverhampton, I extend my very deepest condolences to his widow Asha and his children Anthony, Ishmael and Jessica.
“Elias served his city and council for nearly two decades with huge dedication and commitment. He was one of our city’s favourite sons, a hugely popular councillor and person, hugely respected by the people he served.
“His great strength was his warmth, impeccable manners, leadership, compassion, loyalty and unifying influence. Elias worked closely with different community and faith groups across the City of Wolverhampton, bringing people from all backgrounds together and making our city a better place as a result.
“Despite illness, he continued his mayoral duties for as long as he could with unyielding strength, optimism and determination and raised thousands of pounds for his mayoral charities. He will be profoundly missed by many people.”
Councillor Mattu was the 159th Mayor of Wolverhampton, elected on 17 May 2017 for the 2017-18 municipal year.
Originally born in Punjab, North India, Cllr Mattu came to live in the City of Wolverhampton at the age of nine. Educated at Graiseley School, Wulfrun College and Wednesbury College of Commerce and Technology, he went on to study law at Wolverhampton University whist working as a volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau. He also studied for a certificate in Management and a Diploma in Leadership and Management at Warwick University.
He served as a councillor for Graiseley Ward for nearly 18 years and, as well as Mayor, held several other key positions on the City of Wolverhampton Council, including cabinet member for leisure and communities and cabinet member for adult services, chair of scrutiny panel, licensing committee and member champion for equalities.
Councillor Mattu also held significant roles on outside bodies representing the council, including the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, West Midlands Equality and Diversity Board, West Midlands LGA, Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and its Central Regions Vice-Chairman.
As a local ward councillor, he served as a vice chair of the St Chad’s Association and Graiseley School Governing Body for 22 years, including 12 years as the chair of governors. He was shortlisted for a national award for his contribution to the development of the city’s successful community hubs.
Elias had a great passion for sports. Over the years, he participated in hockey, cricket, boxing and martial arts. He also enjoyed power-lifting, becoming a regional coach and referee – and in the late 1980s he opened his own club where he trained five British power-lifting champions and one European champion.
The flags are flying at half-mast at the Civic Centre in Wolverhampton and a public book of condolence is being set up inside the building.