A FORMER mayor who 'flew the flag' for Milford Haven and campaigned to keep services at Withybush Hospital has died aged 77.

Barrie Woolmer passed away peacefully in hospital on Thursday, November 1.

The father-of-three, also a cherished grandfather, was an outspoken town councillor, and served as mayor in 1981/1982 and 1991/1992.

He was also a Labour county councillor from 1999 to 2004, representing Milford East.

John Morgan, who served alongside him on the town council, said Mr Woolmer came to Milford Haven on a Royal Navy ship, where he met his future wife Geraldine.

"He said 'she's the girl for me' and kept her in his mind the whole time when he was away.

"He said 'I'm going to marry her'."

The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2012.

Mr Morgan, also a former mayor, said Mr Woolmer was a good councillor who 'did not suffer fools gladly'.

"He did whatever he could for the town and was a great ambassador for Milford Haven. He was a lovely man."

Mr Woolmer commitment also saw him support the opening of the Torch Theatre.

"Without his expertise it would never have been completed," said Mr Morgan.

Mr Woolmer was also a member of the health board's community health council, and fought tooth and nail to preserve A&E and maternity services in Pembrokeshire.

"We could do with more people like him now," said Mr Morgan.

Sam Dentten, current chief officer of Hywel Dda Community Health Council, said: “Barry gave his time freely to the Community Health Council as a former volunteer member and was really valued in that role, representing the local patient voice.

"He worked hard to scrutinise NHS services, visited hospitals and was a kind listening ear for patients and the public in Pembrokeshire.

"So, in recognising his generous and heartfelt contribution we send our warmest condolences to his family and friends.”

Hubberston county councillor Viv Stoddart said Mr Woolmer was a "tireless champion of patients' interests".

"I respected him as a combative and outspoken civic leader, acting in the best interests of the people of Milford Haven and the wider community.

"As a county councillor, Barrie was never one to shirk challenging the political establishment by confronting the then ruling Independent Political Group on Pembrokeshire County Council, or in challenging the health establishment in his role on Pembrokeshire Community Health Council."

Mr Woolmer was among the contractors who built the Amoco refinery, and worked in several departments including maintenance, accounts and HR.

He was also a longstanding member of Milford Haven Probus Club.

Edward Davies, who worked with Mr Woolmer for many years, said: "Barry was one of life’s characters and although he was an incomer to Wales he really threw himself into the community he adopted when he married Geraldine.

"He was very proud of his service with the Royal Navy and I remember him once telling me that he still had his uniform and it still fitted him like a glove - but if you knew Barry and his love for food you had to question that statement.

"Barry was a good person and it was a privilege to have known him.

"Milford had lost a good citizen who always had Milford high on his list of priorities and I am sure when he gets to those pearly gates he will soon stamp his authority."

His funeral takes place this morning at Parc Gwyn Crematorium, followed by refreshments at Gelliswick Yacht Club.