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Leeds waterfront pays homage to local unsung heroes

Some of the unsung heroes of Leeds have been celebrated as part of a new art installation along the city’s waterfront.

The art pieces are part of a project by local arts charity Artwork Creative Communities supported by the Canal & River Trust and Leeds City Council.

The project – dubbed ‘Leeds Heroes’ – celebrates people from the area who have made a positive impact and whose accomplishments deserve to be acknowledged. The unsung heroes include Leeds’ first black magistrate, the founder of a zero-waste food project and other community leaders.

The art installation overlooks the River Aire and Fearns Island on a popular thoroughfare past Leeds Dock, and forms part of a wider waterfront arts initiative called the Leeds Waterfront Art Trail.

Kathy Williams, Olympic gymnast and co-founder of RJC Dance, a local dance project, was one of those featured in the artwork. 

“I am thrilled and totally honoured to have been nominated and recognised as a Hero of Leeds (Community). The power of visibility is immeasurable. Through my work at RJC Dance I will continue to champion the legacy of diverse communities and to nurture, develop and inspire children, young people, adults and elders,” said Kathy.

The organisers hope the art will be viewed by countless people who visit the area. According to Becca Dent, strategic programmes manager at the Canal & River Trust, the towpath where the art is installed receives about 4,500 visitors every day, with people walking, running or cycling along the waterfront.

Each artwork within the installation featured a different unsung hero across a range of themes including health, social activism, waterways, education, nature, creativity, innovation, sport, enterprise, community and equality.