THE wife of former mayor who died a fortnight ago called him “the most humble and unassuming man” she ever met.
Christopher Michaelides – a councillor of 25-years who held the Bridgend borough mayoral chains until the elections on May 3 – died six weeks later on June 20 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer. He was 75.
This week, his wife Felicity and nephew Michael Lewis spoke to the Gazette and paid tribute to the Labour stalwart, calling him “an inspiration” who “devoted his life to the people of Betws”.
Mr Michaelides defied his worsening health throughout his mayoral year and attended public functions right into May, weeks before he died.
His wife said four days before his death he was still hoping to attend that week's Bridgend county borough council meeting and the day before he died he spoke in his hospital bed of his concerns about a project to install better wheelchair access in Betws.
“The determination shone through in everything he did,” said Mrs Michaelides. “He was quite simply an inspiration to us all.”
Mr Michaelides, who had represented the Betws ward for almost two decades, had been suffering prostate cancer for around three years but his condition worsened over the past 12 months.
He spent three days in the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, before dying on the afternoon of June 20.
Weeks earlier, he had again stormed to victory at the polls, battled through pain to hand over the mayoral chains to successor councillor Marlene Thomas in front of an awestruck full council chamber and had managed to attend a function at the Betws Bunk House – one of the many projects he had given his heart to.
“What really drove him was a passion to make a difference to people's lives,” said Mrs Michaelides.
“All he was concerned about was the people of Betws.
“It was nearly impossible for him during the mayoral year – not only with the pain but the physical fallout from the illness – but he just kept on going.
“A third of his life was dedicated to the community and he wasn't going to give that up until the very end.
“He never stood on a pedestal. He was the most humble and unassuming person I ever met.”
The son of a Greek Cypriot merchant navy father and an English mother, Mr Michaelides grew up in Fryatt Street in the Barry Docks.
His childhood was one of uncertainty – his father survived two torpedo strikes at sea during World War Two – intense poverty and a string of health complaints including a perforated ear drum, blindness in one eye and a bout of double pneumonia.
“He had a lot of health issues from a young age,” said nephew Mr Lewis.
“But he was determined that he was not going to let that ever hold him back.
“He achieved what he wanted to achieve despite his disadvantaged background and he wanted to help give others that chance.”
He later moved to Mole End near Bryngarw Country Park and built a run-down house up from scratch.
He never had children of his own but was a long time governor at Betws Primary School, where headteacher Colette Machett called him “the father of the school”.
He leaves wife Felicity and two sisters Maria and Emilia.
Mr Michaelides' funeral will be a private family service but a memorial service is to be held at Betws Primary School on Friday, July 13.
Donations are invited to the Glaze Prostate Cancer charity at glazecharity.com/donate/main.html.