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    19 July, 2008

    Goodbye, Emmo, and thank you

    At last night's Rhondda Labour GC we paid tribute to Emrys 'Emmo' Thomas, who died recently after an illness which had lasted for some months. Emmo's funeral halted the traffic in Treorchy just over a week ago, following a moving service at his home, conducted by the Rev. Cyril Llewellyn, with Allan Rogers, former MP for the Rhondda, giving the tribute.

    Emmo was one of the first people I met in the Rhondda when I was seeking selection for the Assembly seat. He was a great supporter not only of me and Chris Bryant MP, but of every Labour candidate at all levels. The top pictue shows him working on my 2003 campaign. As a letter in the Rhondda Leader said, he was behind every Labour Councillor who ever won election in Treorchy. He never wanted to stand himself, even though the affection for him across Treorchy, Ynyswen and Cwmparc was such that he would have stormed it. He was genuinely respected across the political spectrum, and I recall Plaid Cymru Treorchy Councillor Cennard Davies picking him out for a special mention in welcoming him back to the fray after the local elections this year.

    Emmo had been a Labour Party member for 51 years, and last year we held a ceremony in the Stag in Treorchy to give him his 50-year membership award. His uncle Iorrie Thomas was the MP for Rhondda West from 1950 until 1966. He was an active campaigner on community issues as well as in elections. The bottom picture shows Emmo on one of the London demonstrations we held in support of the Burberry workers where his son Leighton worked. He was a strong supporter of the GMB.

    Emmo was also a great sports fan. He despaired a little of his beloved Glamorgan in recent years but he was devoted to cricket and football. He enjoyed Cardiff City's play-off final in 2003, and he would watch football on Sky Sports round the clock. I joined him sometimes at Ton Pentre home games where he would organise the teas at half-time.

    Emmo was a good man. He will be missed by all, and our thoughts remain with his wife Pat and the family.

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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