A FORMER Lord Mayor of Leeds and Alderman of the city has died following a short illness.
Retired GP Dr Graham Kirkland, of Otley, had suffered a stroke and died peacefully aged 80 at Leeds General Infirmary on Saturday.
Dr Kirkland became the first post-war Liberal Democrat Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1998 and went on to raise more than £100,000 for his chosen charities.
His family said in tribute: “He was a loving husband to Joan for 55 years, father to Jonathan and Sue and doting grandfather to Joshua and Oliver, we will miss his sense of humour and thoughtfulness.
“Dad instilled in us a strong sense of community and public service; he loved Otley and was very proud to serve its people.
“He had great energy running a general practice as well as all the other activities; he understood that to make patients better they needed good housing as well as good medicine.”
“The family would like to thank the brilliant staff in the stroke unit at LGI for their care and understanding and everyone for their kind words, thoughts and prayers.”
Leeds North West Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, said: “Graham Kirkland made a huge contribution to the communities he served for so many years in Otley, Wharfedale, Yeadon and in Leeds.
“Graham was a councillor for an extraordinary 45 consecutive years as well as serving as Lord Mayor of Leeds and Otley Town Mayor, as well of course as serving local people as a local GP and previously as a hospital doctor.
“Graham’s loss will be felt by many, many people in the local community, including me. I was deeply saddened to hear the news and will miss Graham very much.
“My sincere condolences and my thoughts and prayers are with Joan his wife and fellow GP, his son Jonathan and daughter Sue, and grandsons Joshua and Oliver.
“Graham was a huge figure in local politics for so many years, respected by everyone including political opponents as well as colleagues.
“Everyone in Otley knew Graham and knew someone who’d been helped by Graham. He was an inspiration and a mentor to many aspiring Liberal and Liberal Democrat candidates and councillor including to me and I can’t overestimate his contribution locally.
“Graham always wanted to help people, whether as councillor or doctor and he touched so many lives. Graham has left a legacy that will go on and he will not be forgotten and those of us who serve people will continue to seek inspiration from him as we do our best to do so”.
Coun Stewart Golton, leader of the Leeds Liberal Democrat Group, said: “Graham was a very valued member of the Liberal Democrat family in Leeds.
“Although a successful man in his own right with a thriving GP practice, he was committed to caring for people in his community, not just as patients but also as citizens.
“He believed everyone should share in the benefits of a successful city and during his mayoral year his charity aimed to improve the accessibility of the city centre for Leeds’s blind residents.”
Coun Sandy Lay (Lib Dem/Otley and Yeadon), said: “Graham dedicated the best years of his life unselfishly serving our community and I know there are plenty of residents thankful that he made us better either medically or by helping us in his councillor role.”
Current Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Gerry Harper said: “I was saddened to hear about Graham’s death. He was a hard-working local councillor and fire authority representative, balancing his duties with his work as a GP.
“I’d like to offer my condolences to his family and friends and the Otley community he served so well.”
Dr Kirkland was elected to Leeds City Council in 1973 having previously served on the Otley Urban District Council.
He was Otley town mayor twice and served on Otley Town Council for 45 years.
Dr Kirkland served on the West Yorkshire Fire Authority, where he had spells as vice chairman and chairman of its personnel and training committee.
He was also an active member and former chairman of Harewood Housing Society and was a governor of Otley schools St Joseph’s and Prince Henry’s Foundation.
He retired from Leeds City Council in 2012 and was made an Alderman of the City of Leeds.
Dr Kirkland and his wife used to run the Westgate Medical Practice in Otley.