LES BARKER - 1947 - 2023
Les Barker will be known by most readers as a brilliant comic performer. Many would say a comic genius. But, who was Les Barker?
Les was born 30th Jan 1947 in Manchester. He worked as an accountant for the council until he turned full time as a performer on the folk scene. He later moved to the village of Bwlchgwyn, near Wrexham in Wales.
In his earlier years Les was a keen footballer and even got to a level that enabled him to play in the local amateur leagues.
He was a fervent fan of the Welsh football league and often went to support his adopted team of TNS (The New Saints)
It is in his adopted new home that he found a love for the Welsh language and immersed himself into the Welsh society, eventually enjoying the challenge of mastering the language. He once said that “it is great to have a new set of words to play with” and he would spend many hours writing poems and taking part in Welsh quizzes. This led him to enter Welsh competitions called Eisteddfod, where he took many top honours for his Welsh speech and written work. He always had a poem, song or comic story on the go that he would perform in Welsh, often to unsuspecting English speaking audiences.
Les had a passionate love of the outdoors and wildlife. He loved his strolls in the countryside especially when there was a bird hide en route. He would take many photos of birds with his Canon camera then spend the following day sifting through on his computer to pick out the best. He loved wildlife and the countryside in general. He enjoyed the outdoors to such an extent that he bought a small woodland area in nearby Maeshafn. Here he would spend many hours managing the woods by thinning out the trees then sitting on his favourite log sipping a coffee with his biscuit in hand enjoying the tranquility.
Les loved trains and had pictures of trains decorating the walls of his home. He had photographed these on his travels as a performer. If he was away in America, Canada, New Zealand or on one of his numerous European or home areas travels he would extend his time at a gig location and take a trip elsewhere, just to discover somewhere new where he could take photos of trains plus lakes, mountains and yes, birds. This culminated in a large library of pictures from all over the world.
Les’ performances were legendary. At festivals there would be a queue for seats. He could hold an audience in the palm of his hands with his amazing comic poems and would have the whole audience crying with laughter. He became the undisputed master of reeling the audience in to finish off many of his clever rhyming verses. Also, no-one would forget an evening with his stage line-up called ‘The Mrs Ackroyd Band’ (named after his mongrel dog, Mrs Ackroyd)
Les wrote over 70 books of poetry. Along with his CD’s, DVD’s and YouTube videos his legacy will live on.