Alford Gardner, a Windrush pioneer and World War II RAF serviceman, has been honoured with the prestigious Leeds Award for his significant contributions to the city’s community. His name now graces the Civic Hall’s ‘wall of fame’, a testament to his enduring legacy and impact on the welfare of Leeds’ residents.
Why was Alford Gardner awarded the prestigious Leeds Award?
Alford Gardner was honoured with the Leeds Award for his remarkable contributions to the city’s community, including serving as a World War II RAF serviceman, founding the Caribbean Cricket Club, and significantly impacting the welfare of Leeds’ residents. His name is now inscribed on the Civic Hall’s ‘wall of fame’.
A Lifetime of Achievements Recognised
Leeds, a city known for its rich cultural heritage and historical significance, once again demonstrated its commitment to honouring those who have played a pivotal role in shaping its community. Yesterday, Alford Gardner, a distinguished member of the Windrush generation and a commendable World War II serviceman, was presented with the Leeds Award. This recognition, bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant impact on the city, was approved during a full council meeting held in November 2023.
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, officiated the ceremony at the Civic Hall, where Gardner’s extraordinary contributions were celebrated. The Leeds Award, reserved for those who have left an indelible mark on the city, adds Gardner’s name to the distinguished wall in the antechamber of Leeds Civic Hall, a testament to his enduring legacy.
Born in Jamaica in 1926, Gardner’s journey led him to volunteer for the Royal Air Force as a teenager, becoming an integral part of the ground crew during the war. His post-war life in Leeds began with an engineering course, which set the stage for both a career and personal life steeped in love and dedication to the city.
Perseverance and Community Spirit
The end of the war marked a new beginning for Gardner. Despite facing discrimination in his housing search, he found a home in Hyde Park and pursued his profession in engineering until retirement. His personal life flourished as well, marrying Norma McKenna and raising nine children, further entwining his story with the fabric of Leeds.
Gardner’s commitment to his community extended beyond his professional achievements. He became a founding member of the Caribbean Cricket Club in 1948, establishing a vibrant hub for the West Indian community in Leeds. Today, the club stands as the longest-running black-led organisation in the city and holds the distinction of being the oldest of its kind in the UK.
The significance of these accomplishments is not lost on the city or its leaders. The Lord Mayor expressed his honour in presenting the award to Gardner, acknowledging his pioneering spirit and contributions to the Caribbean community in Leeds. Gardner, humbled by this recognition, expressed surprise and reiterated his deep affection for Leeds and its residents.
The Leeds Award: An Emblem of Exceptional Service
The Leeds Award, a prestigious accolade, celebrates individuals, groups, and organisations that contribute significantly to the city’s welfare. Established by the Leeds City Council, the award serves as a public tribute to those who have made a real difference in the community. A special panel reviews nominations and recommends deserving candidates to the council for final approval.
To be eligible for the Leeds Award, nominees must have transformed the lives of Leeds’ residents or provided exceptional community service. While certain restrictions apply, such as prior national recognition or self-nomination, the award’s criteria ensure that unsung heroes receive the acknowledgment they deserve.
Recipients of this honour will find their names inscribed on the Civic Hall’s ‘wall of fame,’ joining a legacy of individuals whose dedication to Leeds is both celebrated and immortalised.
Photo credit: Leeds City Council
Headline image: Alford Gardner with the inscription of his name with other Leeds Award winners in the Civic Hall.
Image 2: Alford Gardner and the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite with the inscription in the Civic Hall.
Image 3: The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Al Garthwaite, presenting Alford Gardner with the Leeds Award scroll.
Notes to Editors
The Leeds Award is not just an accolade but a representation of the city’s gratitude towards its outstanding citizens. It is not granted to city councillors or for services with their recognition systems and avoids awarding individuals who hold positions by appointment. If initial nominations are unsuccessful, they may be resubmitted after a two-year period, ensuring that every worthy effort has the opportunity for recognition.
With the presentation of the Leeds Award to Alford Gardner, Leeds City Council not only honours a man of remarkable character and contribution but also enshrines the ethos of a community that values its history and the individuals who have shaped it.
- Alford Gardner, a Windrush pioneer and World War II RAF serviceman, has been honoured with the prestigious Leeds Award for his significant contributions to the city’s community.
- Gardner’s name is now inscribed on the Civic Hall’s ‘wall of fame’, a testament to his enduring legacy and impact on the welfare of Leeds’ residents.
- Gardner served as a World War II RAF serviceman, founded the Caribbean Cricket Club, and significantly impacted the welfare of Leeds’ residents.
- The Leeds Award is a prestigious accolade that celebrates individuals, groups, and organisations that contribute significantly to the city’s welfare.
- Recipients of the Leeds Award have their names inscribed on the Civic Hall’s ‘wall of fame’, joining a legacy of individuals whose dedication to Leeds is celebrated and immortalised.