Richard Leake, who did so much to preserve the memory of one of Bradford (Park Avenue)’s all-time greats, passed away a few weeks ago.

And to repay all he did for them, Avenue are looking to highlight how the former British army lieutenant will be honoured in his own way.

Richard had written a well-received book called ‘A Breed Apart’ about Donald Bell VC and fellow Yorkshire Regiment Officer, Captain Archie White VC, also creating memorials and organising ceremonies in their honour.

Richard Leake (far left) with his army colleagues back in 1959.Richard Leake (far left) with his army colleagues back in 1959. (Image: UGC.)

Donald was one of Bradford’s (Park Avenue)’s most illustrious players who played for the club between 1912 and 1914, helping them get promoted to the First Division for the first time in their history.

At the outbreak of WW1 he asked for permission to leave Park Avenue and enlist, which he did.

He joined the Green Howards, the Yorkshire Regiment and went into training as a private, quickly progressing to become a lance corporal then being given his commission in June 1915.

Just over a year later, on July 5, 1916, Donald won the army’s ultimate award, the Victoria Cross (VC), for attacking, and taking, a German position at Horse Shoe Trench on the Western Front.

Sadly, he died only five days later when, under similar conditions, he again tried to attack and take an enemy position, but unfortunately was killed in the attempt.

To this day, Bell remains the only professional footballer ever to win the Victoria Cross.

Once only a wooden cross existed to mark the place, known as Bell’s Redoubt, where Donald was killed in action.

But it was Richard Leake’s idea in 1996 to create a fitting memorial for the war hero, and on his design, it was unveiled in September 2000 by General The Lord Dannatt, the then Chief of the General Staff and Colonel of the Green Howards, in a ceremony at Bell’s Redoubt.

The memorial was extensively refurbished in 2014 under Richard’s design where the brass plaque made in 2000 was replaced by one made from granite.

Bell's Redoubt, pictured here in 2016 on the 100th anniversary of Donalds's death, has been erected where he died, in Contalmaision, France.Bell's Redoubt, pictured here in 2016 on the 100th anniversary of Donalds's death, has been erected where he died, in Contalmaision, France. (Image: Newsquest.)

In December 2016, at a home game against Brackley Town, Richard presented Bradford (Park Avenue) with the original brass plaque.

Richard Leake, David Nicholson and Major Roger Chapman, affectionally known as the Three Musketeers, were instrumental in involving Avenue in the various ceremonies held at Bell’s Redoubt.

The most recent one was held in September 2016 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Battle of the Somme and to remember members of the Yorkshire Regiment (The Green Howards) who lost their lives in the battle.

The focal point of that weekend was the service held at Bell’s Redoubt to commemorate Donald’s life and included a football match between Albert Sports FC and a team comprising of players from Bradford (Park Avenue) and The Yorkshire Regiment on the Saturday afternoon.

Only two months prior to that, Horsfall staged a memorial match between Bradford (Park Avenue) and Newcastle United, the two sides Bell played for in his career.

Bradford (Park Avenue) taking on Newcastle United at Horsfall in July 2016.Bradford (Park Avenue) taking on Newcastle United at Horsfall in July 2016. (Image: Richard Leach.)

Newcastle won the game 3-0, with then little-known Ivan Toney and Sean Longstaff both on the scoresheet for the visitors.

To recognise Richard’s vision and his tireless work to honour a British war hero, a plaque will be placed on the Donald Bell memorial at Bell’s Redoubt and will be fixed at the site by the Leake family in August this year.