Tributes as Leeds cultural trailblazer Jeffrey Sherwin dies aged 82

Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, pictured outside Leeds Town Hall in 2006.
Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, pictured outside Leeds Town Hall in 2006.

Tributes were today being paid to Leeds arts campaigner and “absolute northern powerhouse” Jeffrey Sherwin following his death at the age of 82.

Dr Sherwin was an honorary alderman of the city and a former Conservative councillor who chaired Leeds’s leisure services committee.

But his contribution to the cultural life of Leeds went far beyond the world of local politics, with perhaps his most notable achievement being the integral role he played in the development of the Henry Moore Institute.

The retired GP, who was also a renowned art collector, leaves a wife, Ruth, and two sons, Adam and Jonathan.

Paying tribute to him in a statement, his family said: “Jeffrey was an absolute northern powerhouse who fought tirelessly to put the arts in Yorkshire on the national stage.

“The Henry Moore Institute is a monument to his determination to give the people of Leeds access to the very best cultural facilities.

“A whirlwind of energy with a million ideas, he wasn’t afraid to take on central government if he felt the North was being short-changed.

“He will be fondly remembered and very sadly missed.”

Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake said: “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dr Jeffrey Sherwin and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

“As a former councillor, long-serving members remember him as a respected and forthright voice in the chamber, who was unwavering in both his commitment to culture and his dedication to the city of Leeds.

“His years of public service were rightly recognised when he was awarded the title of honorary alderman.

“Above all, Dr Sherwin’s extraordinary determination to improve access to the arts in Leeds has helped to make the city a more vibrant and eclectic place to live and visit – a contribution which will be remembered for many years to come.”

Praise for Dr Sherwin’s achievements also came from Bernard Atha, another stalwart of civic life in Leeds.

Mr Atha, a long-serving Labour councillor until his retirement in 2014, said: “I have a genuine feeling of sadness at this news.

“We were on opposite sides politically and fought like cat and dog at times but we got on extremely well and were always allies on the arts.

“Jeffrey played a vital role in getting Leeds to where it is now in terms of culture.”

Leeds Museums and Galleries head of service John Roles said: “Jeffrey was a leading light in seeing developments at Leeds Art Gallery like the Henry Moore extension.

“Since becoming an honorary alderman he has remained a powerful advocate for the gallery and his presence will be greatly missed.”

Hayley Hudson, director of Leeds’s Craft Centre and Design Gallery, where Dr Sherwin was a board member, described him as a “massive supporter” of the arts and said he had been a huge help to her over the years.