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IN TRIBUTE TO LEOTTA ‘LEO’ GOODRIDGE 18th May 1939 – 15th December 2015

Leo Goodridge 7SP
IN TRIBUTE TO LEOTTA ‘LEO’ GOODRIDGE 18th May 1939 – 15th December 2015
Leo was one of the first community leaders I learned from in the early 1990s and as someone who like my parents was part of the Windrush Generation she commanded immediate respect. Her fearlessness, and championing social justice and racial equality combined with her West Indian charm and frankness was something I greatly admired. We worked together on several occasions but two major initiatives stand out. The first was as members on the CEED (Centre for Employment and Economic Development) board. Her 100% commitment for including and delivering for the benefit of the local community first and foremost was unwavering. CEED before they had their own issues that led to their demise were our previous owners after the 1980 St Pauls riots/uprisings. I make no exaggeration that without the support and campaigning of Leo and several others from which we were created there would be no Ujima Radio CIC today and I would not be where I am today.
Secondly I viewed her compassionate side personally during the time when I was working as a Housing Officer/Manager for Bristol City Council. A Volcano erupted in the tiny Caribbean island of Monserrat (a British protectorate) in 1997. Leo was part of Bristol’s welcoming committee to help them settle into Bristol befriending the evacuees and becoming more of a Mother than a friend. Those families attended her funeral are now well integrated and settled into Bristol, thanks to Leo’s selfless work.
Leo was a true Guyanese lioness! At her funeral at the All Hallows Church, Easton on 11th January 2016 in front of a packed audience Asher Craig read out the following eulogy from Carmen Beckford MBE. We at Ujima are delighted to publish it in full on our website and our respects go to her family and to all those lives Leo touched in extraordinary ways. They include Lynette and her daughter Natasha Benjamin of the Hype Dance Troupe at the Trinity Centre. This is yet another project where Leo’s helping and guidance has played a successful part in Bristol’s communities stretching across generations.
We will miss you but your work and legacy lives on through us and many others.
Roger Griffith Chair of Ujima Radio – On behalf of the Ujima Board, Staff, Volunteers and Supporters.
Eulogy for Leotta Goodridge – Read by Ms Asher Craig, On behalf of, Miss Carmen Beckford M.B.E
I met Leo for the first when I was working as a Community Relations Officer for the City & County of Bristol. It was the early 1980s and we both attended a number of the same meetings. It did not take us long to find out that we both had a lot in common particularly the health and social welfare of the many diverse communities in Bristol but particularly young people.
Leo and I were members of the Carnival Committee and we had a keen interest in helping to support young people in the inner city and elsewhere. We often met to discuss work concerns and shared ideas on numerous topics including education, training and social activities. We helped to organise and participated in many trips abroad with the likes of Owen Henry, Barbara Dettering, Roy Hackett and members from the Bristol West Indian Parents & Friends Association.
Leo helped to bridge the gap between the black communities (or in Carmen’s words the West Indian and Asian Communities) and the wider host communities of Bristol.
Leo was also a member of Bristol Council for Racial Equality and I remember after each meeting I used to give Leo a lift home and we would always end up having further discussions at her home over a cup of coffee or oftentimes something a little stronger well into the night.  We shared a lot of laughter which helped us face the future challenges in a more relaxed, but very determined focus going forward.
Leo helped me tremendously with the first multi-cultural conference held at the Colston Hall the proceeds of which helped to fund the first of many holiday youth camps for inner city young people at home and abroad.  Many of you sitting in the audience today may have experienced those trips.
I was asked how I would describe Leo. Well, that’s easy – Leo was loyal to her friends and colleagues, she always had wonderful ideas which she shared with those of us with like mind, she was determined, tenacious, disciplined, and fearless and she was a wonderful friend and colleague. Leo also had a great sense of humour and she was also cool calm and collected. A great role model to all who had the privilege of knowing her.
I’m so sorry that I can’t be here today due to my own health challenges to personally say goodbye to my dear friend and sister.  She will always be remembered as my icon. Sleep sweetly my sister
Miss Carmen Beckford M.B.E
Portrait by Artist Michele Curtis’ Iconic Black Bristolians 7 Saints of St Pauls Exhibition.
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