Leeds community tribute to a ‘driving force’

Gwen Bedford's widower Melvin with the tree planted in her honour in the playing field she helped renovate.
Gwen Bedford's widower Melvin with the tree planted in her honour in the playing field she helped renovate.
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The memory of a “lovable” community-minded resident has been marked with a tree planting in the very recreation ground she fought to renovate.

Gwen Bedford, who died in 2007 after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema, worked tirelessly to give young people in Tingley more play facilities.

Although she passed away before the £130,000 equipment was fitted on Baron Fields, in Smithy Lane, her efforts have now been permanently remembered after a memorial tree was planted to mark her determination.

Her husband Melvin, backed by his friend David Round, residents and councillors, helped to bring Gwen’s ideas to life.

Melvin, 71, said: “She loved kids, we didn’t have any children but she always made sure they had something to do and felt sorry for how they were treated.

“It was only us who fought for them and I honestly do think in a case like this children should have a voice.”

Melvin, who lives across the road from the park, now hopes the red oak tree marking Gwen’s memory will be added to with a memorial plaque.

Eight years of work with ward councillors and Tingley Tenants and Residents Association (Tara) has seen the park transformed with goal posts, a climbing frame, swings and a play area.

Melvin, who is retired, said: “We’re trying to get bits and pieces for them to keep it interesting and get them occupied so they are not under their parents’ feet and not causing trouble for other people as they do get bored.

“If we can challenge that and get them interested in something like football, we are getting them off the street and that is our main target.”

The memorial tree, which was installed last week, was paid for by donations from Coun Karen Renshaw (Lab, Ardsley and Robin Hood), Coun Lisa Mulherin (Lab, Ardsley and Robin Hood) and Tingley Tara.

Coun Renshaw said that Gwen was the “driving force” behind getting something on the estate for young people.

She said: “This is implementing the historical element of the hard work and dedication that has gone into the recreation area and showing what can be done by the community.”

Coun Mulherin added: “I think it shows the community that we support them – the tree looks beautiful.”

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