Dennis Kitchen, who died last month following a heart attack, was known to many, especially in Holbeck where he was a tireless community activist over the last two decades.
Dennis was born in Belfast and adopted by a family in Mexborough near Doncaster where he grew up. Following jobs in a greengrocer and a record shop, Dennis joined the Methodist Ministry training at Cliff College in Derbyshire and worked as a minister in Wibsey, Bradford.
In a career change, Dennis retrained as a bus driver and worked for Metro out of Middleton garage until it closed in the 1980s. He then moved to an office job in Metro’s data collection department until his retirement in 2010.
Dennis and his partner Ian Pickup started to get involved their community having been invited to a meeting to look at making improvements in the area. From there he helped establish Holbeck in Bloom and was Chair of Holbeck Forum and helped to run Holbeck Gala.
In 2012 Holbeck was selected as a pilot area for Neighbourhood Planning and Dennis threw himself into the work of drawing up a plan for the area that met its residents’ objectives. In 2014 a Neighbourhood Forum was formed and officially designated with Dennis as its Chair. After a significant period of meetings and consultation events the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan was drawn up and voted on by the people of Holbeck in a referendum, allowing Leeds City Council to adopt the plan as part of its planning policy.
As a member of Holbeck Working Men’s Club (as it was then known) Dennis was well aware that the club’s future was in doubt. He was part of the group who saved the club in 2013 by volunteering their time behind the bar, turning a big trading deficit into a small surplus in their first year.
Throughout this time Dennis was an active member of the Holbeck Christian Fellowship, who organised his funeral at St Luke’s Church. It was no surprise to see over 200 people attending and a collection raise almost £600, which was shared by Holbeck Food Bank and Friends of Hunslet Moor Christmas toy appeal.
Dennis is survived by his civil partner Ian.
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