YOUNG people in Flintshire have expressed their sorrow at the death of a “selfless” anti-poverty campaigner.
Social welfare workers have paid tribute to Les Cooper, who died suddenly in his sleep, aged 65.
He worked with organisations from across North Wales to improve people’s awareness of money.
Alison Thomas, a worker with Flintshire Youth Forum (FYF), spoke of “an emotional hour” discussing Les with young people from the forum.
She said: “It’s clear Les had a huge impact on many lives but from listening to the group, Les has left a lasting legacy amongst us all.
“We hope that we can continue to work hard with Les’s genuine and kind ethos in mind – to help people and to make a difference.”
The young people from FYF said: “Les valued everyone in life, particularly young people, and sought out unseen potential in people where others didn’t.
“He will be greatly missed by so many people but leaves everyone with such happy memories. We are honoured to have met him, to have worked with him and to say we have been friends with him.”
Mr Cooper worked at the Citizen’s Advice Centre in Flintshire before moving to North Wales and West Housing Association.
He was a core member of the North Wales Financial Inclusion Partnership and will also be remembered for setting up the Victims of Loan Sharks Trust Fund.
Delyn AM Sandy Mewies said she was “truly saddened by the news” of Mr Cooper’s death.
“Les was someone with a big heart who worked hard and selflessly for others,” she said.
“I feel very privileged to have been involved in some of his work, particularly in financial inclusion which was a true passion for him. His passing will touch many people of all ages.”
“An inspirational visionary” was how Jayne Bellis, manager of Pennysmart in Mold, described her former mentor.
“Les was the inspiration for Pennysmart,” she said. “He worked tirelessly to promote money skills in communities and was known and loved by all in the industry.”
John Watkin, chief executive of Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council said: “I have never met someone with so much passion for helping others. His commitment to helping people in distress was evident whenever you met him – he always put his clients first.
John Rhodes, former head of financial capability at CAB, described Les as “contagiously enthusiastic, total committed, endlessly imaginative and absolutely determined to overcome any obstacles”.
Les, who lived in Ruthin, leaves wife Barbara, as well as many other family, friends and colleagues.