Les Painter: 1928 to 2012
21st December 2012. It is with great sadness we report the passing away of Les Painter earlier this week aged 84. Many in the parish will remember very fondly Les Painter who lived, with his wife Eileen, in Eaton until they moved to Witney upon his retirement.
Les was a consummate villager. From a young age delivering bread for Joe Hicks the village baker, based in premises on the corner of Park Lane, to becoming a very valued member of the AH Cornish team on the farm in Eaton.
Janet Gow recalls: “Les was marvellous with the many students we had spending time on the farm. Not only was he an excellent trainer but he also became a good friend to many. Abe and I were proud to have had such a splendid person working with us. But Les trained Abe too! When we joined my father (Howard Cornish) on the farm on our return from Africa in late 1961, Abe had no experience of "modern" farming - Agricultural College in Eire followed by 12 years in Africa - no silage making, no combining etc etc and it fell almost entirely to Fred Newman and Les to instruct (?!) Abe. Then only 2 years later, my father died and Abe relied even more heavily on Fred and Les. We were proud when he received his "Long Service" award at the Royal Agricultural Show. We could not have had a better member of our staff. Thank you, my friend, for your long and loyal service.”
Two old AH Cornish farm students from the mid 80’s, John Alexander & Neil Blackford, said: “Apart from all the larking around and fun that we had with him, there are two main things that stand out - He always appeared to be happy, had a great laugh/giggle and nothing phased him; and he was very patient and clear with teaching us how to do things on the farm and why things were done. Les (and not forgetting Eileen) were also very kind to us “poor” students providing sustenance and advice when needed and we are sad to hear the news of his passing away.”
Graham Rose was a fellow parish councillor with Les in the 1990s and recollects: “Les came top of the poll when we had an election for parish councillors in 1989 and that was no surprise to anyone. He worked tirelessly for the community and nothing was ever too much trouble. He was passionate about the parish and the Appleton Village Hall was another of the fabrics in the community that has benefitted from his attention. He was seen working tirelessly at the two steam rallies we held in the 1960s in aid of the rebuilding of the Village Hall after the devastating fire. A warm, friendly and amusing person with a lovely smile and a great giggler”.
Anne Gow, who knew Les and Eileen from childhood, continued to work with Les during his retirement. “Both at Appleton and Longcot, Les and Eileen regularly arrived at “Farmer Gow’s” for some hilarious ‘hands on’ fun. His stories were limitless, his enthusiasm for farming and the countryside endless. He loved talking to visiting families about farming – it remained his passion always. Les was, as always, terrifically supportive and trained many of the Farmer Gow’s staff. Katherine, my assistant, was his last tractor driving student. The farm welcomed both Les and Eileen to a ‘family lunch’ at the beginning of December – which all the staff attended, including those on days off. The staff enjoyed his company so much that what should have been a one-hour lunch became a 3½ hour session with much laughter and joy. We shall miss him tremendously. I will miss my friend.”
Maureen Alner the founder of Appleton Players recollects: “Les was one of the funniest men I have ever known, a brilliant comedian on and off stage. Some of the Players’ happiest times were with Les at the helm as our founder Chairman. He was Appleton’s irreplaceable Norman Wisdom.
He was an executor with the village charity, the Appleton Trust.
Les's funeral service will be held in St Laurence Appleton on Friday 4th January 2013 at 11:45am. The family has requested no flowers, please. Donations can be made to Kennington Cancer Fund c/o The Co-operative Funeral Care, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28 5ES Phone 01993 706778.
We send our sincere condolences to Eileen and the family.