Aled Richards (1956/7 – 1985)
Thomas James Aled Richards, always known as Aled, came to live in Bristol in the late 1970s. A regular at the Oasis club, he was tall and slim with long red-brown hair and a deep, warm voice. Friends remember him as “someone who everybody knew – always got on with people. Very kind, a lovely guy, and sexy … yea, very sexy.”
He trained in catering and hotel work and worked as a waiter at Maxwell Plum in Frogmore Street and at Jamieson’s restaurant, Upper Maudlin Street. In his spare time he was a phone volunteer and befriender at Bristol Lesbian & Gay Switchboard.
For some time Aled had suffered opportunistic infections before being formally diagnosed with HIV. He developed Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a virulent skin cancer, and was nursed at Ham Green hospital. Friends redecorated his flat in City Road, St Paul’s, as a homecoming surprise but after a brief spell at home he was readmitted to Ham Green hospital where he died on January 29, 1985, aged 28. His family and friends held a wake at Jamieson’s. Aled’s memorial is at the church of St George in Falfield, Gloucestershire, the village where his family lived.
On February 20, with public concern rising about the impact of AIDS, press demonization, misinformation and bias in the medical profession, an alliance was formed, provisionally called the Gay Men’s Health Network in Avon. Its lead organiser was Charlie Beaton and its members principally friends of Charlie who were involved in LGBT community and political groups. The aim was to form a support organisation along the lines of London’s Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) formed in 1982-3.
Within a few months the group was renamed the Aled Richards Trust with the agreement of his family. Aled’s name was used as a way of humanising the issues, although Aled had no direct input to founding the Trust. The Aled Richards Trust was launched on November 5, 1985, with a telephone helpline staffed by volunteers at a small office at No.1 Mark Lane. In 1989 it moved to 54 Colston Street at the top of Christmas Steps, and again in 1992 to Nos. 8-10 West Street, Old Market. In 2017 Bristol Civic Trust installed a blue plaque on 8-10 West Street to mark 25 years of HIV support in Old Market.
The Aled Richards Trust merged with THT in April 2000.
Special thanks to Charlie Beaton, Pete Connor of THT, and to Aled’s friends: Keith, Peter and John, Peter, Niall, David and Mervyn.
Last edited: 13/2/2018