Les was born into a large Scots family from Kingussie, Invernesshire, on 5th Jan. 1938 – the middle child of the 7 children of George and Jean Spence, and this large close family, with his brothers and sisters, Isabel, George, Anne, May, Margaret and James was to affect him, and his relationship at work throughout his life – He was to be a person who recreated this close family atmosphere, to the benefit of those he was with.
He was to meet Sue at a dance in R.A.F. Wittering in 1959, and they were married at St. Kyneburgha in 1960. He spent 12 years altogether in the R.A.F. during which he was in Singapore for two and a half years, and served unaccompanied operational tours in Aden and Borneo – and has two campaign medals granted for his services.
Les did not find it easy at first when leaving the R.A.F. Sue and Les and their family, which now included Andrew, Graham and Joanne came back to Castor to live. Les missed the close comradeship of the R.A.F. to start with, but soon recreated it at work. When working for Whitby Farm Constructors, he at one stage worked with young offenders. These young people, whom others had found difficult, grew to respect Les, and he had them eating out of his hand. He treated people as people. As the workshop foreman at Burgess’s where there was a strong bond between the work – force, Les made close friends. He was to be the father to some, an older brother to others in the family environment he helped create there. He loved his time with Burgess’s – he readily took young people under his wing. He was respected by those that did not have family security and stability.
I think the reason people warmed to Les so quickly, and respected him, was because what you saw is what you got. He was direct and straightforward, and quickly made an impression on you when you met him first.
Nothing came gift wrapped with Les, some-one said. He was a man of simple uncomplicated tastes; He loved his family, and his grandchildren Christopher, David, Lauren, Ryan and Michael. He loved his fuschias, for which he won many prizes. The first time I had regular dealings with him concerns another love of his – working in wrought – iron. He made the lovely votive candle – stand for St. Kyneburgha’s, the one standing next to the shrine Altar.
This candle – stand is not only a perpetual memorial to Les in the Church where he and Sue were married, it has also helped hundreds of people in their prayers. Every day people come in and light candles as they pray for people.
And now we say goodbye to Les – as he goes to meet the Good Shepherd, the person to whom all those prayers left at the candle – stand are addressed. We often use baptism water at funerals, to remind of the promise of the Good Shepherd – Jesus, The Shepherd who knows us all by name, even if we do not know him. After a long illness, bravely born, Les is at peace, free from pain. We are rightly sad; sad at the end of the life of that good, decent straightforward man. Sad for Sue, who has helped Les through a difficult time, and sad for Andrew, Graham and Joanne, and all those who knew and loved Les.
But while sad, we are not without hope. Les is in the care of the Good Shepherd, who will gather us all into his flock in our turn. Today, as we say goodbye we entrust Les to the care of the Good Shepherd, and his family in our prayers to his love and comfort.
God our Father,
We give thee thanks, For the spirit of adventure
That takes us through work to the stars,
For your grace which brings us safely
To our heavenly home For the comradeship which draws us together,
Here on earth and in the company of your Son
Les, may you rest in peace – Amen