British actor and former mayor Bernard Atha CBE dies

He appeared in movies, was honored by the late Queen Elizabeth and to residents of his hometown, was a dedicated public servant.

Bernard Atha CBE, an English actor and longtime resident of Leeds, died after a short illness Saturday. He was 94.

British actor, mayor dies

Atha was born, raised, and educated in his native Leeds, where he served on the city council for decades.

He served as the Lord Mayor of Leeds from 2000 to 2001.

While known to residents as a local politician, Atha was also a part-time actor with some notable TV and film credits.

He appeared in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street and had a part in the classic British film Kes as a youth employment officer.

A supporter of the arts and sports, Atha was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 by the late Queen Elizabeth “for services to the Arts and to the community in Leeds.” He also was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1991 for his service to sport.

Tributes pour in

Leeds City Council leader James Lewis was among those who paid tribute to Atha.

“Really sad news. For those of us who worked with Bernard we will remember him as force of nature and he has left a legacy for Leeds especially in culture and services for disabled people. People still talk about his memorable year as Lord Mayor many years on,” Lewis said.

Atha’s niece Helen Atha said her uncle died peacefully. She described him as a modest man who wore many hats.

“He was generous to a fault, would do anything for anybody, led a frugal life, had a wonderful sense of humour, never banged his own drum or sought recognition. Public service and kindness flowed through his entire body,” she said.

Bernard Atha is survived by his sister Sheila, eight nieces and nephews and great-nephews and nieces.