Memorial stone unveiled in tribute to popular Leeds busker and activist Jonny Walker

A memorial stone has been unveiled in tribute to the much-loved Leeds busker Jonny Walker.

Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:44 pm
Updated Monday, 2nd August 2021, 4:44 pm
Leeds busker Jonny Walker was well-known all over the country for his street performances and activism

The father-of-two, who was well-known all over the country for his street performances and activism, sadly died in March 2018.

On Friday July 23, which would have been Jonny's 41st birthday, a memorial stone was unveiled outside Boots and Leeds Trinity shopping centre.

It commemorates the spot that was 'Jonny's Pitch' in recognition of his performances entertaining the streets of Leeds.

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The memorial stone commemorating the spot that was 'Jonny's Pitch'

As well as a street performer, Jonny was also a social activist who was involved in buskers’ rights campaigns.

He was the director of the Keep Streets Live! campaign, fighting for the rights of buskers and homeless people all over the country.

A gathering was held on Friday July 23 where Jonny's family, friends and colleagues paid tribute to him as they unveiled the memorial stone.

Speaking at the ceremony, his close friend and former deputy leader of Leeds City Council, Lucinda Yeadon, said: "Jonny brought a whole family together with the work that he did, the love that he gave and the friendship that radiated from him.

“Today is a celebration of Jonny. Those of you who knew him know that he was a devoted dad, a loyal friend and a loving brother and son.

"But he was also a passionate activist. We came up with the idea for a memorial stone at Jonny’s pitch so that everyone would know that this is Jonny’s pitch and will always be Jonny’s pitch. I see this as a symbol of everlasting friendship.

“So Jonny, here you go love. This is a brick for your lifehouse - and thank you for showing us the way.”

The ceremony featured music performances from Jonny's friends including Jake and Nick Keating, Anna Rusbtach and Alex Johnston-Seymour, and his brother Michael Walker.

The Yorkshire Youth Choir then joined Michael who performed Jonny's part in an emotional rendition of You Raise Me Up.

Concluding the event, the director of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon Watson MBE, said: "Jonny’s work has shown us how barriers can be broken down, how participation can be something for everyone.

"Jonny described busking as having a democratic access to spaces. The informality and spontaneity of the art form is what makes it special and significant.

"Don’t ever stop keeping our streets live. Let’s not be silent or still in our actions. Let’s be sure we can be heard and we can be seen.

"Art is the thread which I believe can change many lives and bring equality into a world which has lost so much. Thank you Jonny - thank you for your legacy, and thank you for caring about us.

"Let’s continue Jonny’s legacy."

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