Global News Government Military News South America War

Windrush Pioneer Honoured for ‘lasting Impact’ on Leeds

A 97-year-old Windrush pioneer and World War Two veteran from Leeds has been given a prestigious civic award for his contribution to the city.

Jamaican-born Alford Gardner was based with the RAF near Filey before returning home when the war ended.

However, with limited job opportunities in Jamaica, Mr Gardner returned to England in 1948 on HMT Empire Windrush and settled in Leeds.

His name will be inscribed on the wall at Leeds Civic Hall in recognition.

Mr Gardner said he was “honoured” to receive the award.

“Leeds has been my home for the last 75 years,” he added.

“I came back to the city for love and it has been a huge part of my life. So for the people of Leeds to feel that I deserve such a prestigious award makes me feel happy and also very humble.”

Mr Gardner met his wife Norma while on an engineering course in Leeds and they went on to have nine children together.

Alford Gardner with childhood friend Dennis Reed

In 1948, Mr Gardner was one of the founding members of Leeds’s Caribbean Cricket Club, which was a focal point for the city’s West Indian community in the 50s and 60s.

Today, the club is the longest running black-led organisation in Leeds and the oldest of its type in the UK.

Alford Gardner playing the in Hyde Park Leeds with early members of the Caribbean Cricket Club in 1953

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, councillor Al Garthwaite, said: “Alford Gardner is a true inspiration and a pioneer who has made a lasting impact on his adopted home while blazing a trail for so many members of the city’s Caribbean community.

“We are proud to honour him for the contribution he has made to Leeds and to ensure that his remarkable story continues to be told for many generations to come.”

As well as giving talks for students, community groups and national bodies, he was one of the recipients of the 2023 Pride of Britain Outstanding Contribution Award.

In addition, a portrait of him was also painted earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush crossings.

Source : BBC