Tributes pour in for beloved restaurant owner who died after cancer battle

Carlo Lionti
Carlo Lionti

A town's MP, family members, and customers have paid tribute to a restaurant owner and councillor who has died aged 75.

Carlo Lionti, the owner of Carlo’s Italian Restaurant in Colne, died on Saturday, October 1, after a battle with prostate cancer.

He leaves behind his wife, Lesley Lionti, and four children Darren and Tanya Lionti, Tracey Townsend and Louis Holt.

Carlo Lionti

The councillor was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2019 and was given months to live.

His family said he “battled on” after his diagnosis and continued to be a councillor while also running his business.

His family: “By the time Dad had received his diagnosis his cancer was already very advanced.

"He struggled to get to his medical appointments and spent only a few minutes with the doctor when he did.

“He used his position as a councillor to push the issue of GP shortages up into the House of Commons and was passionate about improving this.”

Carlo, who grew up in Sicily in a poor family before moving to the UK, established his Colne restaurant around 40 years ago.

His family said his dad was a well-respected and loved member of the community.

They said: “Whenever we went out with Dad it didn't matter if you were walking down the road driving in the car or in shop.

“People would stop and have chat with Dad, everyone seemed to know him. Seeing all the message of support has been humbling and inspiring to the family.

“He was an inspirational person someone who has worked incredibly hard built a loving family and lived life to its fullest.

“We are all incredibly proud to call him Dad, grandad, great grandad, brother and uncle.

"He leaves behind a massive hole, not just in our lives, but many of his friends and colleagues. He had an infectious personality and was truly one of a kind.”

Carlo joined Pendle Borough Council in 2019 and represented Barrowford and Pendleside ward.

He was a member of Barrowford and Western Parishes Committee and previously attended accounts and audit meetings.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson shared some photos of himself with Carlo and paid tribute to his friend.

 

 

They said: “Over the 16 years I have lived in Colne I’ve had the privilege of knowing Carlo.

“He was a wonderful man, a great host and someone who cared so much about our local area.

“We often talked politics and I was so proud of him when he became a local councillor, using his business and life experience to benefit Pendle.

“I will miss his support and guidance, which has really helped me over the years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Pendle Council leader, Cllr Nadeem Ahmed, said: “Carlo was a true gentleman who always had a smile on his face. He filled a room with laughter and always enjoyed sharing a joke.

“Carlo was the kindest, most humble and caring person I have met and it has been a pleasure to have known him not only as a colleague but as a friend.

“He was devoted to his family and often talked about them in the most loving and proud way.

“Carlo loved being a councillor and it meant a lot to him to serve the people of Pendle, which he did with passion.

“He was a real community man who always had time for others and went out of his way in doing so.

“I will miss him as he was always there for me to offer advice and guidance and had the magic of making difficult things seem so simple.

“He will not only be missed by his family, friends and colleagues but the whole community who knew him through his great business, community work and the residents he served so well."

Carlo Lionti

Councillor Asjad Mahmood, Labour group leader, said: “This is really devastating news.

“He was well-known and highly respected in the community and he was a very loyal and hard-working member of the Conservative group.

“Our council meetings have just lost an experienced, passionate voice for Barrowford. I know Carlo was very conscientious at attending meetings and his contribution was greatly valued.

“We will miss him greatly and the council will be a poorer place without him.”

Councillor David Whipp, Liberal Democrat group leader, said: “Carlo was a lovely man and his death is a sad loss to the community.”

A spokesperson for his Albert Road restaurant announced the news on Saturday, and hundreds of customers have since left tributes for Carlo.

Paul Foxley said: “I'm deeply saddened to hear of the death of my friend Carlo Lionti.

“He was a man with a generosity of spirit second to none. Our thoughts are with Lesley and all his family.”

Sarah McKnight said: “We visited Carlo's many times when I was younger. I  am saddened to hear of his passing.”

Alison Hanns added: “Carlo was such a fine gentleman and he will be sadly missed. Condolences to his family, staff and friends. End of an era.”

“I worked at Carlo’s many years ago when I was a teenager,” said Nina Saporiti.

“Both Carlo and Lesley were wonderful employers. I have very happy memories of that time.

“My condolences to the whole family.”

Lisa Murray said: “Carlo was a pioneer in hospitality within Pendle and has marked the cornerstones of many of the most important times of mine and my friends and family's life.

“No place comes near in this area for ambiance, constant quality, service and value, he'll be missed and remembered by many people.

“Thank you for your service to your industry and community.”

Warren Watson-Smith said: “I am sending all my love and more to the family of Carlo.

“He was an amazing man, and his family are a credit to an legendary soul.”