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Monday, January 29, 2024

Tributes paid to a man who loved Llangollen and dies aged 92

* Les Potts who died last Thursday aged 92.

One of Llangollen’s best-loved characters, famous for his dedication to a number of local organisations ranging from the International Musical Eisteddfod to the Tidy Town Team, has died at the age of 92.

Amongst Les Potts’s distinctions were that he had attended and volunteered at every Eisteddfod since it began in 1947 and that he was the first Briton to officially complete every  mountain walk in the Austrian Alps.

Les, who died at Wrexham Maelor Hospital last Thursday,  was born in Knotty Ash, Liverpool and his first job on leaving school was with one of the city’s shipping firms checking on cargoes at the busy docks.

He had an early enthusiasm was cycling and it was while journeying over from Liverpool with his club that he met Joan, the girl from Llangollen who was to become his wife of over 60 years until she passed away six years ago.

The couple had three children – Keith, a leading figure with Llangollen Eisteddfod and a life vice-president, Allan, a well-known local photographer, and their sister Rosemarie. They also had seven grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren.

Moving to Llangollen following his marriage, Les started work at the town’s seed factory, first working as a buyer and eventually working his way up to a senior management position. He stayed with the company until it moved to Torquay and he took early retirement at the age of 55.

His long association with the Eisteddfod began in 1947 and he attended the very first one with his father.

He then went back every summer, working as a volunteer with the festival’s ticket committee, and was there right up until last year, becoming a very well-known and respected figure amongst fellow volunteers and visitors.  

He was also a member of Llangollen Operatic Society, The Twenty Club, Llangollen Round Table, Llangollen Probus Club and even helped Santa on his visits to the railway. 

Railways were another passion of his - mainline, narrow gauge and model. He was a signalman on the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway and also volunteered at Llangollen Railway. 

He was a member of Llangollen Town Tidy team and had also helped with the Countryside Commission. 

His son Keith said of him: “He was very well known in the area and will be much missed. 

“His long association with the Eisteddfod was remarkable and he is possibly one of the last surviving people to have attended and volunteered at every one since 1947. 

“He served for two years with the army during his National Service but not even that could keep him away and he obtained special permission to do one volunteering shift at the Eisteddfod. 

“Walking was another of his pastimes and he won bronze, silver and gold awards for being the first Brit to complete all the mountain walks in the Austrian Alps years ago. He had a certificate to prove it which was awarded to him appreciative local villagers. 

“He kept up his interest in walking and could often be seen making his way through town on his regular trips. The last time he was out was only a few weeks ago.” 

His other son Allan said: “Our Dad away peacefully in the Maelor Hospital. He has gone to join Mum but will leave a huge hole in the hearts of all our family. 

“Dad spent the majority of his life living in Llangollen. He loved the town and its people. He was passionate about so many things and always supported local business.” 

Paying tribute to him, the Chairman of  Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Chris Adams, said: "Les was central to our festival and the fact that he attended and volunteered at every single Llangollen Eisteddfod is a remarkable achievement.  

“He welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to Llangollen every year and remained a valuable member of the tickets team right up until July 2023.  

“He was an amazing man who passed his love for our remarkable peace festival on to his children, Keith, Allan and Rosemarie, and their family. 

“Les was a well-known character in Llangollen, not just through his lifetime of dedication to the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, but also as a member of the Llangollen Operatic Society, the Twenty Club, the Round Table, and the Llangollen Town Tidy group.” 

Dave Danford, Artistic Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, said: "Les Potts was a man who gave his whole life to our festival, and did so much behind the scenes as an active volunteer right until his sad passing.  

“His death is a very sad moment for us all, but we are thankful for his enormous contribution, right from our very first festival in 1947." 

* No details of the funeral have yet been given.

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