Gloucestershire's Apprenticeship Champions 2019

Meet Mr Gloucester – always ready to campaign for the county he loves

Councillor Andrew Gravells has gained a reputation as a passionate campaigner for the people he serves. Whether it is battling to get a much-loved pub re- opened or saving badly-needed hospital beds, he has fought and won many good causes. But alongside his public duties,Andrew has also fought a determined private battle against lung cancer, enduring months of treatment. Doctors were unsure whether he would survive the year, but thankfully he bounced back. It was perhaps the pinnacle of his many years in public service when he was elected chairman of Gloucestershire County Council earlier this year. First elected to Gloucester City Council in 1976, and the county council in 1977, Andrew Gravells, (Andy to his friends) is one of the longest-ever serving councillors in Gloucester’s history, having served as both Mayor and Sheriff. He admits the battle with Morrisons to prevent the recently re-opened Ridge and Furrow pub at Abbeydale, Gloucester being turned into a petrol filling station was bruising – especially as he was also fighting lung cancer. Andrew was told he had developed the disease on the day of the General Election in 2015. “It was quite a moment,” he said. “I was very busy with the General Election and returned straight from the hospital to the polling station to continue helping Richard Graham's campaign. I didn’t give it a chance to sink in. Only after a few days did I appreciate the magnitude of what I had been told. It was all very surreal and really does put life in perspective.” But typically, Andrew takes little credit for his health battle, attributing his survival to the dedicated team of doctors who cared for him. “Getting the news that you have cancer is quite a shock. Doctors weren’t sure if I would see the year out,

but three years later, thanks to the astonishing skill of surgeons at Bristol Royal Infirmary and oncology teams at Cheltenham, I am here, as fit as I have been in years and am chairing the county council,” he said. “I've been blessed with great help too from good friends, including my goddaughter Martha and her entire family and my part-time dog Poppy! Their good humour and wicked leg-pulling have been very important in getting me through these last few years, which at times, have been tough. “The long surgery, followed by months and months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy were sometimes hard going." Andrew has strong local roots, born and raised in Gloucester and like many of his contemporaries, attended the Crypt School, Gloucester. Finding he had a flair for languages, he took a job at GCHQ in

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42 | December 2018 | www. punchline-gloucester .com

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