Les George OBE was Headteacher of Christleton School between 1958 - 1980. He was one of the most inspirational leaders that any community could have, who created such a strong bond between staff and pupils, and was universally admired and loved by all who met him. He was born at Shotton in Flintshire in 1919. His father Jack was a steward at Shotton Steelworks, who had great influence, and Chairman of the Shotton Glee Club which was to play an important part in Les’ future life. Les was an excellent bass singer and became Chairman of the Glee Club which went on to win the main prize at the Welsh National Eisteddfod held in North Wales.

He loved boating on the River Dee with friends, especially in the cuts near to Shotton and Connahs Quay. They also went bird watching on the marshes, a dangerous occupation, but which gave Les a lifelong love of nature and wildlife. He passed the 11+ and went to Hawarden Grammar School where he grew to love the arts and acted in many school plays. He also captained the School Rugby team and was an accomplished and determined player who played for the Wales Under 18 team against both England and Ireland. He went on to study Education at Bangor Normal College and specialised in English & Science.

In 1939 he joined the 1st Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers and rose to become Regimental Sergeant Major. He formed his own acting company in the regiment, which was based on Salisbury Plain, took an active part in WWII as a Tank Commander, and became an expert in Chemical Warfare. He also took charge of flame throwing in the regiment. He saw active service in North Africa and Italy and helped to liberate Holland. He also spent some time as a chemical warfare expert in South Africa. During the war he was mentioned in dispatches, and often told the story of how the small scar on his face, was a burn from a piece of ash which came from the eruption of Vesuvius in 1943 when he was stationed in Naples.

He began his teaching career at The Grange Ellesmere Port, with Bill Roberts, a Welsh Football International and known as Mr Ellesmere Port, a revered Headteacher and great influence on Les. He took Les under his wing and often drove him home and gave him tea. Les recalled that it was a wonderful footballing school, and whilst there he had the pleasure of teaching John Prescott, now Lord John Prescott, who he regarded as a personal friend. The former deputy Prime Minister often called to visit him and took him out for a meal when he was in the Chester area. Les left The Grange to become Headteacher at Kingsley school near Frodsham.

In 1958 he applied and became Headteacher of a new Secondary Modern School being built in Christleton, and built up what was to become one of the finest Secondary Schools in the country. Creating good teamwork was always one of his strongest attributes, and he had the innate ability of knowing every pupil who came through the doors. He was highly regarded and respected by pupils, parents, staff and governors and all who knew him regarded him as being a huge influence their lives. He built up a very successful school, fully committed to serve the local community and opened the doors of the school to that community by inviting The Christleton Players Drama Group to meet and perform there. He worked closely with County Drama Advisor Peter Dornford May, and soon became a leading actor himself, acting in the Chester Mystery Plays alongside a young teacher called Helen Brenand, later to become his wife in 1961. They played Pilate & Mary on one occasion, and Les also played God. They performed in many of the Christleton Players Shakespearian productions at Eaton Hall, fund raising events for the NSPCC, and became good friends with the late Duchess of Westminster and Princess Margaret.

Les channelling his enthusiasm, passion and commitment built up a superb staff team at Christleton. The school was strong in all areas, and their theatrical productions second to none. My Fair Lady and Oliver in 1966 were two remarkable productions, but there is a very long list of successes over the years, a reputation for excellence that still stands today. Les became great friends with Rev. Canon Laurie Skipper and his wife Margaret who lived in the Rectory, a building which then stood adjacent to the school in Plough Lane. Les and Laurie occasionally teamed up to write plays for the Christleton Players, particularly Christmas pantomimes, and they starred together on stage, performing to packed houses in the school hall.

He continued as Headteacher when the school became Comprehensive in 1974, and retired in 1980 when he was awarded an OBE for his services to Education. His wife Helen died in 1985. They had a daughter Juliet. In preparation for retirement Les helped to design and build a bungalow for his family near Malpas, and created a beautifully landscaped garden from scratch. He became quite an expert in this field, often given lectures about the topic, and becoming Chairman of Malpas Gardening Club. He also became Chairman of The Cheshire County Playing Fields Association and was a judge in the Best Kept Village Competition for many years, always delighted when he visited his favourite village as judge. He also became Chairman of Governors at Tushingham School.

Les enjoyed a very happy retirement and was alert until the last. He loved visits from friends, sitting with them in his garden or going out for lunch to reminisce over past times. He died peacefully aged 93 years on October 13th 2012. He was without doubt one of the finest of human beings, a charismatic and much respected man in all he did. He is missed by so many people.

Les Georeg OBE
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© 2019 Richard Nicholson

Christleton History File October 2018

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