He’s spent 30 years celebrating Leeds’s history and campaigning for the regeneration and betterment of the city - and has been a vital voice in helping bring major projects like the arena and the waterside boom to fruition.
Now heritage hero Dr Kevin Grady is set to receive one of the city’s highest civic honours.
The respected academic and writer has been nominated to receive a prestigious Leeds Award. The nomination - which is expected to be ratified at a council meeting today - comes just three weeks before the 66-year old retires.
The citation letter from Dr Grady’s colleague Lynda Kitching says: “Over almost 30 years as director of Leeds Civíc Trust, Kevin has demonstrated his determination to incorporate Leeds’ heritage into regenerated areas and new developments alike as a way of showing Leeds’s distinctiveness.
“[There are] several areas where Kevin’s intervention has been crucial to regeneration: the waterfront, the south side of Boar Lane, lobbying for an arena, Holbeck, Temple Mill, First White Cloth Hall. Of course, not every suggestion met with approval, but...he has always had the interests of the city at heart.”
Dr Grady told the YEP it was a “considerable honour” to be recognised for doing what he loves - improving and celebrating his adopted city.
“The city is very dear to my heart,” he said.
He stressed however, that he had been “the public face representing the collective efforts of many people” at the Trust.
Dr Grady first came to Leeds from Birmingham as a student in 1969. It was his final year project on Leeds’s development from 1700 to 1914 that firmly planted the seed that would go on to define his professional life.
He said his proudest achievements include the successful Eye on the Aire campaign to improve the city’s waterways, which was the catalyst for the later riverside development boom. He is also proud of the Trust’s blue plaque scheme, which recognises people and organisations which have been key to telling the story of the city. The Trust has placed 161 plaques in the last 29 years.