Blue plaque honour for the founder of Leeds St George’s Crypt

He was the vicar who came to Leeds on a mission - to help the lost, lonely and destitute.

Saturday, 11th September 2021, 6:00 am
Delia Robins chats with Hilary Benn MP after she unveiled a blue plaque to her  father in law  Percy 'Don' Robins at St George's Crypt. PIC: Gary Longbottom
Delia Robins chats with Hilary Benn MP after she unveiled a blue plaque to her father in law Percy 'Don' Robins at St George's Crypt. PIC: Gary Longbottom

Percy 'Don' Robins arrived in the city in 1930 with Leeds in the grip of The Great Depression. There were queues at the labour and dole offices; men walked the streets ashamed to go home without money for food.

His aim was to reach out to the poor and needy while breathing new life into the decaying St George’s Church in the city centre which was surrounded by slum streets where unemployment had hit hard.

The untold suffering he witnessed combined with his 'new lives for old' ethos prompted him to found a refuge, St George’s Crypt, creating a haven for those in need with food, a bed, clothing, practical help, and medical care.

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Delia Robins unveils a blue plaque to her father-in-law Percy 'Don' Robins at St George's Crypt. PIC: Gary Longbottom

Fast forward to 2021 and that legacy continues with Crypt's core values of supporting 'homeless and vulnerable people in Leeds to achieve stable and positive lives' through an 'attitude of acceptance and engagement’ at the heart of its work.

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Changing Leeds - Inside St George's Crypt down the decades

Now the pioneering work of Mr Robins has been recognised with a blue plaque in his honour outside the Crypt. It makes the start of this year's Heritage Open Days which runs until Sunday, September 19.

The wording on the blue plaque reads: "Founded St George’s Crypt in 1930, creating a refuge for the city’s homeless, providing food, a bed, clothing, practical help, and medical care.This ex-RAF serviceman and Anglican priest always committed himself to be “where the battle is hottest, and the work is hardest.”"

The blue plaque unveiled to Percy 'Don' Robins on the wall at St George's Crypt. PIC: Gary Longbottom

Ian & Delia Robins, Don’s son and daughter-in-law, said: "As a family, we are very proud of Don’s work in founding St George's Crypt, and we thank the Leeds Civic Trust for recognising his achievement with a Blue Plaque.

"Since Don founded the Crypt, the work of the charity has continued to evolve and we are delighted that this event also gives us the opportunity to pay tribute to those who have given so much time, effort, and money over the years”.

Chris Fields, CEO of St George’s Crypt, said: “It is really wonderful that Leeds Civic Trust have agreed to place a blue plaque outside the Crypt to honour the selfless and unstinting service of our founder Percy “Don” Robins. 90 years on, the Crypt continues to provide services for homeless and disadvantaged people in our city which Don certainly would urge us to do”.

Leeds Civic Trust director, Martin Hamilton, said: “The people of Leeds admire and respect St George’s Crypt for the refuge and support it has provided to thousands of the city’s most vulnerable over the decades. It is particularly fitting that we celebrate the Crypt’s visionary founder Revd. Don Robins in the 90th year of its establishment with a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque.”

Percy 'Don' Robins at his desk.

Leeds Civic Trust is a charity established in 1965 that promotes the improvements of Leeds in the spheres of planning, architecture, heritage, and city amenities. It is responsible for the blue plaque scheme which celebrates people, places, events and buildings that have made an important contribution to the city.

The blue plaque is the 181st to be unveiled over the course of the last three decades.

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