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‘Fitting and lasting’ tribute to former Kirkstall councillor Bernard Atha

By David Spereall, local democracy reporter

A “fitting and lasting tribute” will be created in memory of Leeds actor and long-serving Kirkstall councillor Bernard Atha, the city’s council leader has said.

James Lewis said that Mr Atha, who died last month aged 94, would be “remembered for his wit and charm”.

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Mr Atha performed in the film Kes, as well as in Coronation Street, Emmerdale and All Creatures Great and Small across a distinguished acting career in the 1960s and 1970s.

He also served as a Leeds councillor for the City, Holbeck and Kirkstall wards for a total of 57 years, until his retirement in 2014.

Paying tribute to him at a full council meeting today (Wednesday), Councillor Lewis said Mr Atha had been a crucial figure in the city’s arts scene and had helped bring Northern Ballet to Leeds.

Councillor Lewis said: “Bernard was a long-serving member and played a huge part in the life of council.

“He was passionate about the health service and served on various health boards and charities linked to the hospitals.

“He wasn’t just a councillor who sat there and ticked items off the agenda. He really got things done in the city.”

Councillor Lewis said that Mr Atha had also helped to grow the West Yorkshire Playhouse, in the Quarry Hill area of the city centre.

He also recalled his year as Lord Mayor around the turn of the millennium, during which time he hosted the visit of Nelson Mandela.

He also said his 57 years of service in the council chamber is “unlikely to be surpassed”.

Councillor Lewis added: “We remember his wit and his charm. He was always courteous but had a unique style in this council chamber. His whole life was dedicated to the city of Leeds.

“We are going to work with Bernard’s family on a fitting and lasting tribute to his life.”

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