The Lion of Hull is finally honoured

A smiling Sir Leo Schultz

A smiling Sir Leo Schultz

The work of a politician whose efforts saved thousands of lives during the war has been recognised in the city where he was a leading figure for more than half a century.

A 10ft-high statue of Sir Leo Schultz was unveiled outside Hull's Guildhall on Monday.

Before the war Sir Leo persuaded the city council to build expensive bomb shelters. His campaign was successful and, despite Hull being the most bombed city in Britain, the shelters saved many lives.

The level of Hull's damage remained a war-time secret in order not to affect national morale. The unveiling coincided with the 70th anniversary of the first two nights of the blitz of the city, during which more than 400 people were killed.

Sir Leo became known as the "Lion of Hull" for his work.

Sir Leo and his wife Kitty adopted Bob Rosner - later a respected architect - who arrived in Hull with his sister on the Kindertransport.

Around 60 civic dignitaries, including former mayors and aldermen of the city, attended the unveiling of the statue and a lunch. Around 10 members of Sir Leo's family were also present, some of whom had travelled from Australia.

Dr Nick Evans, diaspora history lecturer at the University of Hull, was historical adviser to the project. He said: "Sir Leo was a formidable character. To spend more than 50 years as a councillor made him a huge figure. No politician could do that now.

"It's impressive that the city has finally acknowledged his role. Hull probably has more of its Jewish heritage on display than most cities around the country."

The son of a Polish immigrant who earned a living as a pawnbroker, Sir Leo was knighted in 1966 and died in 1991 at the age of 91.

Last updated: 2:39pm, May 12 2011