Keith Parker: Tributes paid to former pit pony driver turned Lord Mayor of Leeds

Tributes have been paid to a former pit pony driver who went on to become Lord Mayor of Leeds.

Keith Parker, from Kippax, died on Sunday aged 87, and is survived by his wife Lenny, two children and three grandchildren.

Mr Parker began working at Ledston Luck colliery near Castleford when he left school in the 1950s and during the 1980s became instrumental in rallying the community during the miners’ strike, with his wife running a local soup kitchen to support workers.

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A keen National Union of Mineworkers member, his passion for politics led him to stand for Leeds City Council after being made redundant from the pit.

Keith Parker with his wife LennyKeith Parker with his wife Lenny
Keith Parker with his wife Lenny

First elected in 1986 to represent the Kippax and Methley ward, Mr Parker went on to serve as Lord Mayor of the city in 1999-2000.

He was also made an alderman of Leeds, one of the highest civic honours the city council bestows.

His son Craig Parker said: “He was lovely – very supportive, caring and loved all his grandchildren.

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"He went picketing during the strike, after the strike he then took his redundancy and went for the council.

"Kippax meant everything to him. He loved the place, he was born and bred. He was so passionate about the local teams, he really love dhis cricket and was big into his horse racing.”

Leader of Leeds City Council James Lewis, also from Kippax, paid tribute to Mr Parker as a “real stalwart” during the 1984 strike.

Coun Lewis said: “He was a real stalwart supporting the strike as an NUM official, supporting the community and families.

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"Knowing Keith, wherever he was on his journey, he treated everyone the same all the way through. That was his hallmark.

"He was very determined, and got a lot done for the people he represented, and treated everyone with thoughtful consideration.

"He was always full of stories of going down the pit and in the strike.

"He’d always been a Labour member through the NUM but like a lot of people in our area, it was the miners’ strike that focussed his political activism.

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"As a councillor, one of his focuses was getting funding and grants for projects in our ward, he was a keen sportsman in his youth and always supported local sport.

"I am sure at our next council meeting, we’ll be standing for a minute’s silence in memory of Keith."

Mr Parker’s friend Karl Curry said: “He was an all round top bloke, and very dear friend. Not many make it from pony driver to Lord Mayor, but Keith did.”