Les is hero of Oz

Les Wilson Park
Les Wilson Park

AN ILKESTON man has been rewarded for his community spirit after having a park in his new home in Australia named after him.

Les Wilson has made quite a name for himself in his home town of Bunbury, Western Australia, through his dedication to protect the open space from vandals and turn it into a local beauty spot.

And now his local city council has recognised his hard work by renaming it Les Wilson Park.

His wife Dorothy said: “Even though he has been here for 41 years, his heart has always been in Ilkeston.

“We, his family, are very proud of Les and of the work he has done.

“The people of Ilkeston’s loss has been our gain and we are very proud he came our way.”

Born in Ilkeston in April 1928, Les emigrated to Australia in 1973.

When Les and Dorothy first moved to Bunbury in 1986 the stretch of land on their street was left as an eyesore with just dry grass and rubbish.

Following a meeting with the council, mature trees were planted on the site by local schoolchildren but most of the seedlings either died or were pulled out by vandals.

Frustrated, Les decided to take it upon himself to look after the park.

Dorothy added: “He would cart buckets of water from home to give these trees a good start. If any died or were pulled out he would get more seedlings from the council and replant them. He did this for six years.”

Following Les’ work, the council has now installed a walkway/cycle path plus two children’s playgrounds in the park and renamed it in his honour.

A spokesman for the City of Bunbury Council said: “The stretch of parkland was named Les Wilson Park in March 2011 in commemoration of the many years Les used his own time and resources to ensure that when the trees were planted 10 or 15 years ago they were well watered and protected from vandalism.

“The fruits of Les’ efforts are now enjoyed by the residents of this area.”

According to Dorothy, 83-year-old Les still has the Advertiser sent to him each week by his sister Eileen, which he then forwards to a friend of his, Dennis Baker, who lives on the other side of Australia in New South Wales and is another former Ilkeston lad.