Twinkle toes

9th October 2023 | posted in News

Sixties music fan Leslie Wrightson was well known in the Darlington area for his quick feet – both in road races and on the dance floor.

Les, 78, joined Darlington Harriers 60 years ago and competed in numerous events including 11 Great North Runs and three London Marathons.

He worked as a fitter and turner at Shildon wagon works and kept fit by running the seven and a half miles to work and back everyday from his Darlington home.

And he didn’t ease up in his free time either – introduced to rock and roll music at the local youth club, he took to it instantly and taught himself to dance.

“The sixties was my era and I enjoyed most of the music, especially Lulu and The Beatles who I saw in concert in Birmingham,” said Les.

“I picked up the moves watching other people and would then practice, I used to dance with two partners at a time.”

Of course, fashion was as much a part of rock n roll as the music and Les travelled down to London to kit himself out with a mottled brown teddy boy outfit complete with beetle crushers.

“It cost £8 which was a week and a half wages – but at least the train was half price because I had a job at the wagon works,” recalls Les.

The attention to detail paid off as Les triumphed in the North-East dance championships of 1964 held in Durham.

Four years ago Les was knocked over by a car and was grateful for the fitness his dancing and running had given him.

“I was in James Cook hospital for five weeks and a few people have suggested it was my fitness that helped me survive,” he said.

As part of his recuperation, he moved into our Tempest Anderson sheltered housing scheme in Darlington and over three years later he’s still there enjoying regular visits from his son Wayne, a Royal Navy Lt Commander, and his three grandchildren and great grandchild.

“I missed my garden and greenhouse at first but now I’ve got used to it I love my home,” said Les. “It’s ideal for me, quiet, no hassle and well placed for a walk downtown. And I still enjoy listening to the music of the sixties”

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