It is with great sadness that we report the death of Leslie George OBE, Headeacher of Christleton School between 1958-1980. Les was born in 1919 at Shotton in Flintshire. His father Jack was a steward at Shotton steelworks, and someone who had influence. He became Chairman of the Shotton Glee Club, but died when Les was 4yrs old. Les himself was a good bass and later became Chairman of the Glee Club, which won at the National Eisteddfod in N Wales.
Les loved boating with friends on the river Dee, in the cuts near to Shotton & Connahs Quay and they often went bird watching on the marshes. He passed the 11+ and went to the Grammar School at Hawarden. He always had a love of the arts and acted in many school plays. He captained the School Rugby team and was an accomplished and determined player who in 1936 went on to play for Wales at Under 18 level, against both England and Ireland. He studied Education at Bangor Normal College and specialised in English & Science.
In 1939 he joined the 1st Bn. 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, and took an active part in WWII as a Tank Carrier 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, Italy and helped to liberate Holland. He also spent some time as a chemical warfare expert in South Africa. During the war Les was mentioned in dispatches, and also told the story of how in 1943 he had seen Vesuvius erupt whilst stationed at Naples.
He began teaching at The Grange Ellesmere Port with Bill Roberts a Wales Football International and known as Mr Ellesmere Port, a revered Head and a 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 Lord John Prescott, who he regarded as a personal friend. He left The Grange to become Headteacher at Kingsley School near Frodsham.
In 1958 he applied and became Headteacher of a new Secondary School 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 also had the innate ability of knowing every pupil who came through the doors. He was highly regarded and respected by pupils, parents, staff, governors and all who knew him regarded him as being a huge influence on their lives.
He built up a very successful school, fully committed to serve the community, and opened the doors of the school to that community by inviting The Christleton Players to meet and perform there. He worked closely with County Drama Advisor Peter Dornford May, and soon became a leading player 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. Helen & Les played in many of the Shakespearian productions at Eaton Hall and became friends with the late Duchess of Westminster and Princess Margaret.
Les, channelling his enthusiasm, passion and commitment built up a superb team at Christleton. The school was strong in all areas, and their theatrical productions second to none. My Fair Lady & Oliver were probably the most memorable, but they had a long string of successes over the years. Les also became extremely good friends with Rector of Christleton the late Rev. Canon Laurie Skipper & his wife Margaret who at that time lived in the Rectory, which was adjacent to the school in Plough Lane. Les also wrote several plays for the Village Players particularly the Christmas pantomimes, which were always performed to full 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 1995, 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 and travelled around the countryside giving talks about his garden project. He became Chairman of The Cheshire County Playing Fields Association and was a judge in The Best Kept Village Competition.
Les enjoyed a happy retirement and was very alert and active until recent times. He died peacefully aged 93years 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 will be missed by so many people.
David Cummings and Phil Hodges