Bernard Atha CBE
Bernard was educated at Leeds Modern School and Leeds University and served in the RAF from 1950-52. A qualified lawyer and teacher, Bernard was first elected to Leeds City Council in 1957 and is the city’s longest serving councillor. Currently he represents the Kirkstall ward. He served as Lord Mayor of Leeds from 2000-2001. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Art, received an OBE in 2001 and in 2007 was made a CBE for his services to the arts and to the communities of Leeds. His special interests include sport, disability and health.
Bernard has served on a vast number of bodies in the voluntary sector and was Chair of many of them, most notably the British Paralympic Association. Currently Bernard is Chair of the Scarborough Trust, Sports Aid (Y&H), Red Ladder Theatre Company, Craft Centre and Design Gallery, EFDS Operating Co td, UKSAPLD, Yorkshire Youth Ballet, and Northern Ballet. He is Trustee of the Wades Charities, Sports Aid Trust, Middleton Equestrian Centre, Renton Foundation, United Leeds Hospital Charitable Foundation, Mary Jane Butler Trust, and the London Marathon Charitable Trust. He is President of the Cookridge Community Association and Leeds Arts Centre.
Bernard is a true Yorkshire personality. In his spare time he has also acted in a number of notable television series and motion pictures. ‘Kes’, the ‘Play for today’ series, ‘Juliet Bravo’, and ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ are just some examples of his appearances.
My connection with Northern Ballet started when I saw Christopher Gable, after dancing the lead in Don Quixote, exhorting the Alhambra audience to write to the Arts Council to save Northern Ballet. I had seen Christopher dance at the Royal Opera House, seen his feature films and tv film programmes but came to know him well only when I joined the Board soon afterwards. I was excited by his twin vision of telling real tales through classical dance by dancers of the highest quality technically and of real acting ability and the parallel vision of a northern school of classical ballet. The loss of Christopher was enormous. To find someone who has the same visions and the artistic genius to achieve them has been the good fortune of Northern Ballet. David Nixon in the last five years has continued in his own unique way the pursuit of that twin vision of which we are now on the cusp of achieving with our new HQ on Quarry Hill. For me it will be the end of a thirteen year objective. To Northern Ballet it is the start of a new era.