The first British-born Rom elected as a town mayor and more recently serving with the Commission for Racial Equality, Charles Smith will be remembered for his outstanding leadership qualities.
Smith steered the Gypsy Council, now in its 40th year, through one of its most turbulent periods. Following the anti-Traveller Criminal Justice Act of l994, he had to contend with an upsurge of racism that is still hurting every Rom and Traveller in the UK.
An iconic image that will remain ever fresh in my mind is of Charlie being manhandled by Constant bailiffs as he resisted the removal of a caravan during the brutal Meadowlands eviction last year.
More than that he was the best chairman the Gypsy Council has ever had and built links with the Pan-Romani movement around the globe. Smith attended at the 5th World Romani Congress in Prague, and numerous other meetings on the continent.
He died, after a long fight with cancer, on 8 November.
The funeral takes place at 12 noon on Monday, 21 November, at the Church of St James the Less, Hadleigh, near Southend, Essex