Near-death experience inspired new councillor's election success

Alex Catt, Green Party, who has won the Sewell Ward.

Alex Catt from the Green Party, the new Sewell ward councillor for Norwich - Credit: Denise Bradley

Last year Alex Catt was battling for his life but on Friday he was celebrating becoming one of Norwich's newest councillors.

In a local electoral triumph for the Green Party, Mr Catt beat the incumbent Sewell ward Labour cabinet member Mathew Packer as a third of the city council's elected members defended their seats in Thursday's election.

The 24-year-old had a near-death experience in September 2021 when he tumbled down an 80ft Welsh gorge below Pistyll Cain, while on holiday in Snowdonia with his parents.

City councillor Matthew Packer. Pic: Archant Library.

Former city councillor and cabinet member Matthew Packer - Credit: Archant

He said: "When it happened last year, I was in the hospital thinking about my future.

"I had worked in hospitality for about four years and I realised I was very unhappy in my job.

"It made me want to do something that was worthwhile."

Mr Catt, who is a former deputy manager at Pizza Hut in Norwich's Riverside, lay in the gorge for eight hours before he was rescued by the South Snowdonia Search and Rescue Team on September 8, 2021.

He sustained a series of injuries in the fall, including a broken left leg and ankle, two broken ribs, damage to his kidney and spleen, a dislocated shoulder, cuts and bruises and a black eye.

Now, Mr Catt said he wants to do something that will change things for the better for Sewell residents.

Alex Catt in hospital in 2021

Alex Catt in hospital in 2021 - Credit: Supplied by Alexander Catt.

Most Read

Mr Catt said: "Being able to stand and do all this work is a much better use of my time.

"It will be doing something that will make a difference.

"It's crazy to think that in September I nearly died.

"It's changed my life - I'm trying to turn a negative experience into a positive."

He was rescued after eight hours and used the what3words app to communicate his exact location to his parents who sent that on to rescue teams.

City Hall in Norwich.

Norwich City Council is the only local authority in Norfolk which will have local elections in 2022. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Speaking about his win against the Labour incumbent, Mr Catt said he was grateful for the people of Sewell putting their trust in him.

"I think they feel left behind in their community by the other party and I'm really excited to start working for them.

"Along the course of t he campaign, it felt like people were quite apathetic about politics and let down by the horrendous national political picture 

"We have a climate emergency which will be one of my biggest priorities."

Sewell was the only ward to change hands, leaving Labour with a 14-seat majority over the Greens as the city council's second biggest group after results were announced at St Andrew's Hall on Friday.