Harry Leslie Smith, the 93-year-old RAF veteran, writer and campaigner, is backing Bradford’s bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North.
The veteran activist has sent a message of support to the team leading the city’s plans to stage a two-month spectacular in 2018.
Blackpool, Bradford, Newcastle-Gateshead and Sheffield will vie to host the exhibition.
The Government says the event, which will receive £20m in funding, would showcase the “creative, cultural and design sectors of the North”. The winning bid will be announced in the autumn.
Mr Smith said: “The city has been the apple of my eye since 1928, I have known and loved Bradford for close to 90 years and no city in the North deserves the Great Exhibition more than Bradford.
“Here you will find innovation, dynamism, inclusion and the warmest hearts in Yorkshire.
“In short Bradford is a city that will always look to the future but will walk there with grace and compassion for others.”
Born in Yorkshire in February 1923, Mr Smith survived the Great Depression, served with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War and since retiring from business in the 1990s has become an activist for the poor and the preservation of social democracy.
He has written books about Britain during the depression, the war, and postwar austerity.
These include Harry’s Last Stand, a polemic attacking NHS cutbacks, benefits policy, political corruption, food poverty and the cost of education among other issues.
Susan Hinchcliffe, leader of Bradford council, said: “Harry has lived under four sovereigns and 19 prime ministers during his long life.
“He is a distinguished and eloquent witness to history and knows better than most the characteristics that have long defined our great city.”