Tributes have been paid to a former Kirkstall councillor and Lord Mayor who passed away yesterday, aged 94.
Bernard Atha CBE passed away on Saturday after a short illness. He was born in Leeds in 1928 and spent almost six decades serving the city as a councillor.
Mr Atha was also an actor who performed in the film Kes and TV series including Coronation Street, Emmerdale and All Creatures Great and Small.
In 1957 he was first elected to Leeds City Council as a Labour councillor on the City ward until it was abolished. He went on to represent Holbeck from 1969-73 and Kirkstall from 1973 until his retirement in 2014.
Mr Atha was a major figure in the arts and sport andw as influential in the building of West Yorkshire Playhouse in 1974 and previously sat on the board for the Leeds Grand Theatre.
He was Lord Mayor of Leeds from 2000 to 2001. During his mayoralty he selected 18 “high-profile, well-known Yorkshire women” to act in turn as his Lady Mayoress, a role traditionally taken by the spouse or another family member of the mayor.
Hea was appointed CBE in the 2007 Birthday Honours “for services to the Arts and to the community in Leeds”, having earlier been appointed OBE in the 1991 New Year Honours “for services to Sport, particularly Sport for the Disabled”.
Leeds City Council leader James Lewis today Tweeted his sadness at Mr Atha’s passing. He said: “Really sad news. For those of us who worked with Bernard we will remember him as force of nature and he has left a legacy for Leeds especially in culture and services for disabled people. People still talk about his memorable year as Lord Mayor many years on.”
His views were echoed by Kirkstall councillor Fiona Venner:
Absolutely gutted the legendary Bernard Atha has died. It was a privilege & utterly daunting to succeed Bernard in Kirkstall after he’d been a Cllr for 57 years. A lovely man devoted to public service. Such sad news but what a full & well lived life. pic.twitter.com/YYQCFk1UDS— Fiona Venner (@FionaVenner) October 23, 2022
Councillor Kevin Ritchie (Lab, Bramley & Stanningley) tweeted: “Really sorry to hear this. RIP.”
Saddened to hear about the passing of former Lord Mayor of Leeds Bernard Atha.— Kayti (@Kayti93) October 23, 2022
He made my Grannie Lady Mayoress of Leeds, and remained a faithful and cherished friend until her passing, even speaking at her funeral.
Rest in peace, Bernard. @WLDispatch pic.twitter.com/c9oN206DXU