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Tributes to Chris Campbell: The campaigner whose ‘actions spoke louder than his words’

Chris Campbell
Tributes have been paid to Chris Campbell (Photo credit: Tom Martin/ Race Council Cymru)

Tributes have been paid to Chris Campbell, a community champion from Torfaen who got involved in everything from serving food at a lunch club in Thornhill to campaigning against injustice to  organising events to celebrate the Windrush Generation in Wales.

His passing has led to tributes from community leaders and groups including Black History Wales and the South Wales Jamaica Society.

The 59-year-old was a volunteer at the Cosy Kitchen lunch club at Thornhill Community Centre. Later this week Cwmbran Life will share some memories of Chris from the team he worked with at the centre.

He passed away on 7 October 2022 following a short illness leaving his wife Emma, nine children, and nine grandchildren.

His community work also saw him run projects with the armed forces. On Saturday 5 November 2022, the annual memorial service to Black and Ethnic Minority servicemen and women in Wales was held in Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff and featured a tribute to Chris.

‘His wisdom will help us through our journey of life’

Gabrielle Brown, one of his daughters, said: “My dad had an open heart and mind. He showed us with his heart, a heartfelt love to each and every one of us in his own way. His mind was a mind that was open and creative. We gained much from his knowledge on various topics, and I feel sure that his wisdom will help us through our journey of life.

“He was not only a great dad, but a family man who always cared for his family and their well-being.

“We will always hold him in our hearts for the love he gave to us, the hearty laughter and sunshiny smile that always brightened our day. This is our beloved dad whom we will eternally remember in our hearts.”

Chris and Emma, his wife
Chris and Emma, his wife
Chris with three of his children and four of his grandchildren
Chris with three of his children and four of his grandchildren

‘He left a great legacy’

Cllr Anthony Hunt, leader of Torfaen Council, said: “I will always remember Chris as a good friend. But even more than that, I will remember what Chris stood for. As a campaigner against poverty and injustice, Chris has left a great legacy and it will be one that drives us forward in his name.

“To help make Torfaen a more tolerant, inclusive, loving place, where people live together in harmony, recognise the value of diversity and are not held back because of the colour of their skin. We have work to do, and we will do it in Chris’s name.”

He threw himself into the community’

Professor Uzo Iwobi OBE said: “It is heartbreaking. He contributed so, so, so much. I first met Chris at a Labour group meeting in Cardiff. I was speaking and he came up to me and said he was so excited to see a black African sister in this space. 

“He asked about Race Council Wales and Black History Month and he asked if he could volunteer and support. He never looked back.

group of people by a poppy memorial
Professor Uzo Iwobi CBE, Ify Iwobi, Chris Campbell, Roma Taylor, and Angie Tyshiani (Photo credit: Professor Uzo Iwobi CBE)

“That was seven or eight years ago. He threw himself into the community. He was a founding member of the South Wales Jamaica Society. I established the Windrush work in Wales and worked with one of the Windrush Cymru elders, Mrs Roma Taylor. Chris began to plan and lead on the events.

“We held Windrush events in the Senedd and all over. It was only literally three months ago that we voted him as vice-chair of Black History Month committee. He had barely started his work when he suddenly passed away.”

‘He had the ability to get the community together’

Everton Walker, AKA The Godfather, a radio presenter on Wolverhampton’s Skyline Radio, said: “I met Chris Campbell AKA Zazi for the first time back in the early 70s. He made contact with friends of mine in Wolverhampton. We used to meet up at dances.

Everton Walker and Chris Campbell
Everton Walker and Chris Campbell

“Those were in the days before he came to Wales. And it was long before mobile phones. As we got older we had more responsibilities but would meet up at social events and functions. He moved to Wales. and was a listener of Because of the internet link with my show, I interview people from around the world. The station has been going for 34 years.

“Chris was doing a lot of stuff for Wales. Chris became my Zoom engineer where he would ‘meet and greet’ special guests before they came on live for the interview.

poster for a radio show
Chris was the Zoom engineer on The Godfather’s radio show

“He had a big part in terms of Welcoming the guests before the interview started. Chris also spoke about the projects that he was involved with in Wales and the part he played in the community in Wales.

“I interviewed Chris a few times. His partner Emma also played a big part. They made a big difference in Wales. He surprised a lot of people about the things he had created. He was great, he was something different.

“There was so much love among so many people for Chris, the people and communities that he had reached out to. He was a really well-liked person.

“He loved his children, and his stepchildren, he loved everybody, especially Emma. He always had a smile on his face. He helped to create something different. After each interview, we would chat before our partners stepped in. We would talk about what did and things we could have done better. We were always learning.

“I’ve lost a companion on the Keep It Real Team but Chris was the main cog during the pandemic. He had the ability to get the community together. He could interact with everybody. He was unique. Not many brothers carry such a political presence.

“He was someone who was always ‘actions speak louder than words’ and showed how ‘look at the things I can do for others’ was most important.

“That was his warmth and the love that he tried to create. I had a meeting on zoom with some of his colleagues and friends in Wales Sunday 23 October about their time with Chris. It was nice to hear their stories about him. He will be suddenly missed by many who loved him.”

His funeral took place last Friday (11 November) at Langstone Vale Crematorium and St Woolos Cemetery

Donate to Black History Wales Fund

A GoFundMe has been set up by Race Council Cymru.

We invite you to make a private donation in memory of the work which Zazi/Chris made on behalf of Race Council Cymru and Black History Wales. All money donated will be used to continue his legacy through his children and grandchildren.

Read more and make a donation here

Tributes on social media

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Tributes to Chris Campbell: The campaigner whose ‘actions spoke louder than his words’