Surprise celebration to mark 70 years of service to Barmston

A surprise event took place in Barmston on Tuesday 28th March to celebrate one resident’s 70 years of service to the people of the village, as well as mark his 85th birthday.

There was a look of amazement on Les Wiles’ face when he arrived at Barmston & Fraisthorpe Village Hall to be met by a roomful of people who had all turned out to thank him for the dedication he has shown, and all the hard work he has put in on behalf of various organisations over seven decades.

Until recently, Les had been a parish councillor for 43 years, spent over 40 years as a trustee of the village hall committee and was a lifelong member of the congregation at Barmston Methodist Church until its closure.

He remains chairman of the village cricket club, whilst he has also served as a member, trustee and supporter of numerous other organisations during his 85 years.

So much does Les love Barmston and Yorkshire that he has only ventured out of the county once, when he went down to London to watch his beloved Hull City in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

To thank Les for his efforts, people from the village clubbed together to put on a party for him at the village hall, where John Swift, who served alongside Les on the parish council for many years, paid a glowing tribute to him.

The village also raised enough money to buy Les an experience he will never forget. Later this year, he will travel to Scarborough Cricket Club to watch Yorkshire play Kent from the comfort of the hospitality tent, accompanied by Simon Porter from Barmston Cricket Club.

Les told the Wolds Weekly that he had no idea his friends from Barmston, Fraisthorpe and the surrounding area were planning the celebration.

“It was brilliant,” he said. “I knew nothing about it until I got to the village hall. I was completely in the dark.

“I was amazed when I walked into the village hall, because I had no idea they would do anything like that for me.

“The turnout was great and I was lost for words. I’m looking forward to going to watch Yorkshire at Scarborough and I’ll enjoy my lunch there.

“I’m a regular at Scarborough and the weather should be nice in August.

“I’ve lived with my sister throughout my life, neither she nor I were married. I lost her last June, so I’m living on my own now.

“It’s been amazing how my friends have supported me, especially Mr and Mrs Swift, who have been magnificent, particularly after I had to spend 10 days in Hull Royal Infirmary.”

Born in 1938, Les spent his schooldays at Lissett Junior School and St George’s Boys’ School in Bridlington before going on to work for J W Northgraves at Manor Farm, where he remained for most of his working life until setting up his own gardening business.

Les’ involvement with Barmston Cricket Club started at a young age and he was groundsman by the time he was 15.

The club folded in the late 1990s but Les, along with Don Bemrose, was one of the main figures that helped it reform in 1997, and the club continues to field an XI in the Bridlington & District Evening Cricket League on Thursday evenings.

As well as being a rep in the Agricultural Workers Union, Les joined Barmston & Fraisthorpe Parish Council in 1979 and remained a councillor until last year.

Around the same time he joined the parish council, Les became a trustee of the village hall, serving for over 40 years.

During this period, he MC’d the weekly military whist drives, which ran every Friday evening from the 1950s until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and he was involved in the running of Barmston’s annual gala and the children’s Christmas party.

Not only that, Les also played his part in the running of the chapel, Boynton Charity Trust, the local allotments, Wednesday Fellowship and the village newsletter, travelling over 8,000 miles in the 44 years he delivered it.

“There is an old saying that it is easy to start a successful business but keeping it successful is very hard indeed,” said John Swift in his tribute to Les.

“Similarly, it is easy to get people to volunteer to help in village organisations but not many of these people are still there helping out two, five, 20, 40 or in Les’s case 70 years later.

“He has given outstanding service and long-term commitment to this community and for that we thank him very much indeed.

“We felt that it was time to recognise his service to the community and so set about organising a collection around the villages and some of the past residents in order to make a small presentation to him.

“With his 85th birthday on 28th March coming up, it seemed a good day to organise a small event to celebrate his birthday and his long service.

“We were very happy that a sum in excess of £500 was raised to cover the costs of the party and to purchase a hospitality package to the Yorkshire v Kent one day cricket match at Scarborough Cricket Club for him and a guest on 1st August.

“Our thanks go to Simon Porter, of Barmston Cricket Club, for agreeing to take Les to the match and to Colin Adamson, the honorary secretary of Scarborough Cricket Club for organising the booking and providing the splendid document detailing the gift he was receiving.

“Over 40 people attended the gathering in the village hall to celebrate these two events.

“We were especially happy that Jane Evison agreed to make the presentation to Les on behalf of his many friends and to Jonathan Owen for coming along to add his good wishes to Les.

“We hope that the visible support by the majority of people in the parish will help alleviate the hurt he has suffered at the hands of a few.”

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