'A tragic loss' - tributes paid to Dorset councillor who suddenly died while running

Weymouth Conservative Councillor Tony Ferrari has died at the age of 70.

Weymouth Conservative Councillor Tony Ferrari has died after he fell unwell while running.

The Littlemoor and Preston Councillor, who was 70, was exercising on the evening of Monday 6 November when he collapsed.

Councillors stood in silence in tribute to him at the start of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

Cllr Ferrari had served on Dorset Council’s Cabinet as the portfolio holder for economic growth, assets and property until a re-shuffle in May this year. He was also a member of Weymouth Town Council.

Cllr Ferrari was elected to the new unitary Dorset Council when it was formed in May 2019 and was a member of the council’s appeals committee, also representing the authority on the Ferndown and Uddens Business Improvement District. He had previously served on the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.

Until September 2023 he had served as interim chair of the Littlemoor Community Action Group and had previously campaigned on many ward issues, including fighting for a better bus service, and had opposed several development proposals which residents were unhappy with.

He had worked in the community on a variety of projects throughout the Covid period and was a supporter of many local groups.

Cllr Louie O’Leary and Cllr Ferrari. Credit: Louie O’Leary

Fellow ward councillor Louie O’Leary described Cllr Ferrari’s death as a “tragic loss”.

He said his fellow ward councillor had opted to mentor him when he was a prospective councillor at the age of 20.

Cllr O'Leary said: “This is absolutely devastating and unexpected news.

“I first met Tony when I was selected at 20 years of age and he helped mentor me in many ways.

“He was a man dedicated to public service an active ward councillor who served in many roles in local government for over 20 years.

“He was a friend, a mentor a public servant of the highest merit and most importantly a dedicated husband, son and loving father and grandfather.

“His loss will be felt by all those he served and knew.”

Cllr Ferrari was an experienced long-distance runner, including taking part in ultra-distance events of 100km or more, often overnight.

His recent forays at council meetings included a call for Dorset Council to condemn the siting of the Bibby Stockholm barge on Portland and for it to be removed as soon as possible.

His wife, Erica, said the couple had moved to Dorset from Harrow eight years ago, where her husband had also served as a borough councillor.

The couple have three children and one grandchild, with another on the way.

She described her husband as an honest, self-deprecating man with a genuine care for others and although he had spent many years as the managing director of a FTSE 100 company seldom spoke about it – preferring to talk about his community work and his passion for running.

She said he had turned to teaching chemistry in his retirement prior to moving to Weymouth as a way of keeping busy.

Credit: Trevor Bevins, local democracy reporter