Leeds cafe’s tribute to climber who died in fall tragedy

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An ethical cafe is dedicating a new outdoor area to the memory of a former volunteer who died in a climbing accident.

The Real Junk Food Project in Armley – which serves customers food that would otherwise be thrown away – is to name a new garden area after Keith Waddell.

As reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Saturday, 50-year-old Mr Waddell, who lived in Harehills, fell to his death while climbing a crag in Wales last Tuesday.

Tributes have flooded in to the mountaineering enthusiast and teacher, who was due to start a full-time job at Ripon Grammar School in September.

Adam Smith, co-director of The Real Junk Food Project, said Mr Waddell only volunteered for a fortnight last November when the cafe was in its infancy – but made a huge impression.

“We didn’t know him, I think he was just passing and came in to see what we were doing – and then ended up staying,” he said.

“He helped out with front of house, but he would pitch in and do anything – sweeping floors, cleaning up at the end of the day.

“He was a gentle giant – just a very nice man. If it wasn’t for him I don’t know if we’d have been able to get up and running like we did.

“He was really supportive of the concept of what we were doing and could see its value and he told everyone about it. He was an amazing ambassador for us.

“I broke down when I heard what had happened.”

Mr Waddell, who had a lifelong passion for the outdoors and had travelled extensively – including to the Antarctic – to pursue his love of adventuring, was at the popular Tremadog site in Snowdonia when he fell.

His funeral will be held this Friday, with a wake at the Adelphi pub in the city centre. The catering will be done by The Real Junk Food Project.

Friends have left a succession of tributes on a Facebook page set up by Leeds Mountaineering Club, which he was a member of for many years.

Social secretary and close friend David Thorpe said Mr Waddell remained “very much alive” to him.

He said: “Keith loved music, theatre, comedy and generally exploring and finding things out about the world. He was a keen scientist and that was his chosen subject to teach. He loved physics and marvelled at the world and the science behind it. He will be missed by me and my children.”

Writing on the Facebook page, another friend, Lesley Murray, said: “Keith was without a doubt the most intelligent man I will ever meet. He was a great funny teacher, everyone loved him.”

Graham Owens wrote: “He was one of the funniest and most life affirming people I have or am likely to ever know. I am very proud to have been able call Keith my friend.”

“If it wasn’t for him I don’t know if we’d have been able to get up and running”

Millennium Square and Leeds Civic Hall, Leeds City Centre.

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