Leeds Carnival ‘Mother’ dies in England at age 77

Photo of Gloria Pemberton is courtesy of The Yorkshire Evening Post

BASSETERRE,ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 23RD 2012 (CUOPM) – A woman described as “The Mother of the Leeds carnival,” has died at the age of 77 in England.

Gloria Pemberton, of Francis Street, Chapeltown, died peacefully at home.

Alison Bellamy, writing in the Yorkshire Evening Post said originally from Basseterre, St. Kitts, in the Caribbean, Mrs. Pemberton, who was also known as ‘Auntie Tina’ came to Leeds in 1959.

The grandmother, who had four sons, told her youngest son Darren she was going for “a little lie down” and died just minutes later, on February 3.

Her funeral is to be held tomorrow (Friday) at11.30am at St. Martin’s Church, at St. Martin’s View, of Chapeltown Road, in Chapeltown.

A tribute is to be read by carnival boss and lifelong friend Arthur France, and eulogies by her great nieces Andrea and Tyesha.

Mr. France, of Round hay, said her death had caused much sadness in the community: “Gloria’s home was a half-way house, creche, refuge, cafe and everything in between as she helped lots of people with their troubles. Everyone thought of her as an auntie and she really was the mother of carnival. For decades she has helped make the carnival a huge success.

In fact, she lived for carnival time. She was tireless in her efforts to get the costumes ready and was very kind. She would spend her money on carnival costumes instead of paying her gas bill.”

Mrs. Pemberton, who initially worked at Burton’s tailoring as a seamstress in the 1960s, also ran a dance troop called the Sustain Dancers, for young girls from inner-city Leeds. They toured nationally and she helped them with confidence building.

Her grand-daughter Sherrill Roach added: “She will be sadly missed and was a great character and will leave a lasting impression in the city.”

A celebration of her life is to be held after the funeral service at the West Indian Centre, at Laycock Place, in Chapeltown.

A memorial event to remember her is being planned for the future. She died of natural causes.

She leaves four sons Godfrey, Alfonso, Adrian and Darren, and 11 grandchildren, and has a large extended family. Her husband Randolph died some years ago.

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