The many different communities which make Leeds such a special place to live and work were the inspiration behind a celebration hosted by the Lord Mayor yesterday evening.
The ‘Leeds, we are United’ event brought together guests from community organisations, sporting bodies, public bodies and the private sector for a night that was all about the diversity of our city.
Coun Gerry Harper, whose year as Lord Mayor is nearing its end, said he had wanted to hold an event all about the united and multicultural city he knows and loves.
“I was reflecting on all the horrific things that were happening in the world one day and I thought how lucky we are to live in Leeds,” he said. “It’s a city where all faiths, all communities live together, work together and play together.
“In one area you can have a synagogue, a church, a gurdwara and a mosque all within a quarter of a mile without any problems. It would be great if the rest of the world could be like that.
“This is about saying how proud I am to be mayor of this city. It’s all about bringing together different cultures and communities in Leeds.”
This is about saying how proud I am to be mayor of this city.Coun Gerry Harper, Lord Mayor of Leeds
Guests at the town hall last night were treated to a delicious menu from around the world as well as international entertainment, including Chinese Dragon Dancers and a classical South Asian performance.
Coun Harper said: “I’ve seen a lot of artists throughout my year. I even danced and sang with a few of them.
“I attended Chinese New Year in February and the lion dance was absolutely fantastic. They were the first people that I thought of.
“I’ve tried singing with the Celebration Choir at Chapeltown Community Centre – we sang One Love by Bob Marley – and I’ve done Bollywood dancing with the group here that is tonight. It’s been quite a memorable year.”
A wide range of groups were involved in the organisation of the evening, with many raising money for the Lord Mayor’s charities in advance.
All proceeds from ticket sales will also go to the charities – Epilepsy Action and Heart Research UK.
And while there may be just a few weeks left of his year as Lord Mayor, Coun Harper will be fundraising for both causes right up until he hands over the chains of office on May 25.
Events still to come include the official Leeds Lord Mayor’s Golf Day on May 11.
Coun Harper said he had chosen the two charites for very personal reasons.
“I’ve got epilepsy and one of my brothers died when he was 14 because of heart problems,” he said.
But the year has been about more than simply raising money in support.
“It’s also about raising awareness of the problems faced by people,” Coun Harper said.
“We’ve done training for people so they know what to do if they come across someone have a heart attack or epileptic seizure.”