What do you do if you are far from home and you feel homesick? Would you hide in a dark room, or would you go, build a community and dance in the streets? Arthur France MBE chose the latter. He is one of Leeds community heroes, and is the leading figure in the creation of the Leeds West Indian Carnival.
Arthur decided that Leeds should have its own West Indian Carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture after arriving in England from Nevis of St Kitts-Nevis in 1957. Arthur saw Carnival as a chance for the people of the Caribbean community to come together and celebrate their heritage. Through sharing stories, music, dance and culture, he hoped it would help to heal some of the feelings of homesickness that many of them felt and provide a way to express themselves and their culture even whilst living in Leeds.
In 1964, with a group of friends, family and students from the Leeds University Caribbean Society, Arthur began his plans to create the very first Leeds West Indian Carnival. It was difficult for Arthur and his group, and they faced many challenges, but they overcame them and the event finally took place in 1967. It was the first authentic Caribbean carnival in Europe. From then on, it has taken place every year and gone from strength to strength, increasing in size, status and popularity.
For Arthur, the Leeds West Indian Carnival has always been about the local community coming together to celebrate Caribbean culture, and everyone is invited to take part in the celebrations and learn more about the roots and culture of Carnival.
There are lots of other festivals and carnivals happening in and around Leeds including the ones you can find out about on these pages: