SOUTH Gloucestershire Council has paid tribute to an anti-racism campaigner who died at the weekend.
Batook Pandya, the director of Bristol-based Stand Against Racism and Inequality (SARI), died on Sunday aged 67.
Mr Pandya, originally from Kenya but who moved to the UK as a teenager in 1963, is credited with as a leading campaigner against racism and discrimination in the region.
Paying tribute, South Gloucestershire Council leader Cllr John Calway (Con, Longwell Green), said: “We are all saddened to learn of Batook’s sudden death.
“He was a tireless campaigner who was very highly respected. He was a fierce advocate for equality and brought people over to his point of view with reasoned, balanced debate and good humour.
“His invaluable work in South Gloucestershire with 'Race Forward', the Equalities Forum and his own charity SARI will be missed, but his legacy will carry on through those organisations. “Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, Nick Gargan, said: "The sudden death of Batook Pandya over the weekend is a great loss to Bristol and we in Avon and Somerset police will greatly miss him.
"For more than a quarter of a century he has led SARI’s work supporting victims of hate crime.
"His work brought him close to local police, helping us find ways of improving our service to victims of hate crime – and sometimes telling us uncomfortable truths.
"His openness about his own experiences and his honesty meant he had an enduring impact on our police officers and staff.”
He added: “The vibrant and diverse city that Bristol has become owes a lot to Batook and we will work to keep it that way."
Before starting work with SARI when it was established in 1988, Mr Pandya was an engineer at British Aerospace.
He was awarded an MBE and an honorary doctorate by the University of Bristol for his work across communities in the city.
In a statement, his family said: “He was an amazing dad, an incredible granddad and a real family man whilst also being a tower of strength for Bristol and the many communities he served.
“He succeeded at all that he did. He was undefeated by so many challenges. He was tireless in his passions. He succeeded at all his ventures.
“We cannot imagine life without him now he has left the room. Bristol won’t be the same but we intend to do all we can to continue with his legacy.”