So proud of ‘Oz hero’ Les

Les Wilson
Les Wilson

A FORMER Ilkestonian, who tirelessly worked for his adopted home in Australia, has died.

The Advertiser featured Les Wilson last April after his hometown of Bunbury, Western Australia, honoured the 83-year-old by naming a park after him.

This week his sister Eileen Martin has told the Advertiser how proud the family is of the former gold miner who, despite spending half his life on the other side of the world, had a special place in his heart for Ilkeston.

“It was such a shock,” said Eileen, 72.

“We were all so proud of Les and everything he had achieved.”

Les, a former coal miner at Cossall colliery, was born in Ilkeston in April 1928, emigrating to Australia for just £10 in 1973 to work in the gold mines of Western Australia.

“He thought the world of Australia, but he never forgot Ilkeston,” said Eileen, who sent copies of the Ilkeston Advertiser out to Les every month.

When Les retired from the gold mines he took up a job in a Woolworths store where he met his wife Dorothy.

They moved from Kalgoorlie to Bunbury in 1986, where Les’s community spirit really shone through.

A stretch of dry grassland on their street had become an eyesore, strewn with rubbish.

Keen gardener Les quickly got to work, carrying water from his own home to help trees on the site.

He carried on the good work for six years, leading the local council to name the area the Les Wilson Park.

Back in April, Dorothy wrote to the ‘Tiser, saying: “The people of Ilkeston’s loss has been our gain and we are very proud he came our way.”

Les died on Wednesday January 11 from liver problems.

He leaves a number of step-children, step-grandchildren, and great-granchildren.

In the UK he leaves his brothers John Wilson and Paul Pritchard, who live in Ilkeston, and Ernie Wilson of Long Eaton.