A COUNCILLOR who was a “dedicated public servant” and went “above and beyond” for his community has died aged just 32.

Craig Cannell, of Rochford District Council and Essex County Council, died from complications following surgery.

Colleagues and residents have paid tribute to the “kind, warm and welcoming” Liberal Democrat who died on Remembrance Sunday, November 14.

Cllr Michael Hoy, of Rochford District Residents’ Group, said: “He did a lot for residents throughout the district, very quietly, without a lot of fanfare or self-promotion.

“He was a really nice person, just one of those people who wanted to help residents regardless of party politics or their political views, as long as he was helping residents. He was a dedicated public servant.”

Born in Beverley in East Yorkshire, Craig was raised in Boston, Lincolnshire. The footy-mad Liverpool fan was educated in Sheffield before moving to Rayleigh in 2014.

Craig was drawn to Rayleigh due to its historic buildings, green spaces and community feel; traits he enjoyed when living in Lincolnshire.

He was elected to Rochford District Council in 2018 representing residents of Downhall and Rawreth and in May 2021 he defied the odds to be elected as the Rayleigh County and town councillor for Essex County Council.

“He was just kind, warm and welcoming, that’s just who he was, always wanting to make a positive difference and thinking of other people,” Cllr Hoy added.

“His dedication to residents was reflected in him winning the county seat earlier this year. It showed what the residents thought of him, overturning such a large Conservative majority.”

Former councillor George Ioannou, who worked extensively with Craig to deliver the Rochford Banking Hub, described him as “hugely dedicated” and a “much respected friend”.

He said: “He cared for his residents in Rayleigh. He had so many good qualities, he was professional, and had great attention for detail.

“To die at the age of 32, it’s just such an awful thing that he is gone and a massive loss for everyone in the area.”

One of Craig’s great achievements was the creation of the banking hub in Rochford. Since opening in April of this year, more than 10,000 have passed through the doors. He concentrated on every minor detail to make sure things were in place before we opened up,” he added.  Plans are afoot for a commemorative tree to be planted in Rayleigh for Mr Cannell, led by resident and co-founder of Eco Essex, Sam Pitman.

“Craig came across as a very genuine person and it was very obvious he was passionate about the environment. He will be greatly missed by the community,” Sam said.

His funeral will be held on December 6.