Unsung hero of the Year

NAME - Les Ince

AGE - 73

SCHOOL - Darwen Aldridge Community Academy

BASED - Sudell Road, Darwen


SCHOOL MISSION/VISION - Realise Your Potential

LES Ince may be 74 next month, but he has no plans to retire – he’s far too busy helping Darwen pupils sort out their problems.

Les, who came to the UK as a child from Guyana in South America, took on the counselling job when he was in his fifties after a varied career working as a mechanic, taxi driver and musician.

When his children were born he discovered a talent for talking to their friends and helping sort out family issues so he went back to college and retrained as a counsellor.

Now he helps pupils aged from 11-19 with their issues ranging from bullying and relationship break-ups to bulimia and self harm.

“It’s challenging and very varied,” he says.

He started work at Darwen Moorland 16 years ago and continued in the role when it became an academy.

“To be quite honest I was taken aback when I heard about the award. At the academy we have such good leadership and many people here work very, very hard to help the young people. The school has a vision and I am part of that wider approach,” he says.

Les lives in Bury with his wife Kathy and has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

He says he has always had support from a large extended family but a lot of the pupils he sees don’t have that.

“He is quietly supporting those most in need. He has the ability to dramatically alter someone’s self image, the way they feel, how they deal with a situation or even the trajectory of their life,” said Daca’s assistant principal Michelle Billington.

The judges felt he was a worthy winner of the category, sponsored by BAE Systems. In his spare time Les works as a volunteer helping people with dementia in Rochdale.

He also plays bass guitar and until recently was in the school band.

“I’m letting the younger ones take over now!” he said, although he has no plans to retire from counselling in the foreseeable future.