Desmond Wilson, who was first elected to Nottingham City Council in 1991, representing St Ann’s right up until 2008, sadly passed away on Thursday 16 July.
Des, as he was affectionately known, emigrated to Nottingham in 1957 aged 18 and having worked in the coal mines of Nottingham for three years, he worked for Nottingham City Transport, before opening a café in Radford in 1971 where he got to know cross-sections of the local community.
It was here that Des, pictured, gained an invaluable insight into the problems faced by people across and throughout Nottingham, in particular the city’s West Indian community.
By 1984, he was fully involved with organisations such as the Afro-Caribbean National Artistic Centre, the West Indian National Association, the Race Equality Council and, in the 1980s, the Indian Pakistani African Caribbean community project.
Guided by his social conscience, Des became more politically active in the 1980s and helped build training organisations such as PATRA, which was designed to get young people from ethnic-minority communities into management activities, particularly within the housing sector.
In 2002, Des became Nottingham’s first black Lord Mayor and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Nottingham in 2012 to mark five decades of service to the communities of Radford and especially St Ann’s, where he served as a local councillor for so many years.
In recognition of his commitment to education in Nottingham, New College Nottingham created a bursary in 2003 in Des’s honour to support young Jamaicans who wanted to continue their studies in Nottingham.
Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, who represents Dales, which neighbours St Ann’s ward, said, “Des was a community activist, an advocate and a champion for Nottingham people and he used his influence to enhance the wellbeing of people in Nottingham, particularly those from minority backgrounds.
“During his time in the city, Des made outstanding contributions to the West Indian community and people across the entire city. Even in retirement back home in Jamaica, Des continued to give his time, energy and imagination to improving the lives of young people.
“On behalf of everyone at Nottingham City Council, our thoughts and prayers are with Des’s family, friends and all those that knew him.”