TRIBUTES have poured in for "an old school" journalist and former deputy editor of the Evening Leader who sadly passed away aged 90 after a short illness.

Les Chamberlain was born in Aberystwyth in 1933, the son of Albert and Maggie Chamberlain and began his career in journalism on the Cambrian News. He spent time on the Nottingham Evening Post, Birmingham Mail and the Coventry Evening Telegraph before moving to Wrexham to join the Evening Leader.

An accomplished reporter and journalist, he was able to turn his hand to many roles, working as deputy news editor in Coventry and Wrexham and as a football reporter and theatre critic. 

In the 1970s he regularly interviewed big name stars including Ken Dodd, Larry Grayson and Rod Hull and continued his involvement with the theatre in North Wales.

The Leader: Les Chamberlain.Les Chamberlain. (Image: UGC)

In Coventry he spent time as a football reporter covering Coventry City during the period when Jimmy Hill was manager and after joining the Leader he covered Wrexham. His must-read Terrace Talk column appeared on the back page of the weekly Leader for more than 30 years until he finally retired at the age of 79.

A devoted husband, Les was married to Carol, who he met at school, and the couple had two children, Gethin and Delyth. Carol died two years ago and Les moved to Gloucestershire to be close to Delyth, a pianist, who helped to care for him in his final years. 

He was a keen sportsman and captain of the Ardwyn School football team and continued his sporting activities in the RAF during his national service, which he spent in England and Germany.

Les was also a talented musician, conductor and compere and had a lifelong association with brass bands, joining the Aberystwyth British Legion Silver band at the age of 14 on euphonium.

In Wrexham he was a regular compere at concerts featuring visiting bands, including the Black Dyke Band, Brighouse and Rastrick and Grimethorpe Colliery Band. He was also a regular compere with the Rhosllanerchrugog Male Voice Choir, the Rhos Orpheus Male Choir and the Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir.

His son Gethin, 57, followed him into journalism and went on to become a foreign correspondent. 

He said of his father: “Dad was the kindest, funniest man I knew. Everyone he met adored him and his quick wit, charm and attention to detail made him a first class journalist. 

The Leader: Les and Carol ChamberlainLes and Carol Chamberlain (Image: UGC)

“To walk down Wrexham High Street with him was to be in the presence of a force of nature: he seemed to draw people into his orbit, stopping and chatting every few paces so that it always took an age to get where we were going. 

“He loved his football and brass bands and brought joy to so many people.” 

Among those paying tribute was Roly Smith, a colleague on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, who said: ''I often think back to those great days we had on the Coventry Telegraph. It's when I learned from people like Les how it was to be a proper professional journalist and I'll always be grateful for that.”

Peter Swingler of Tip Top Productions theatre in Chester, said: ''I believe that Wrexham people will always be grateful to Les for allowing theatres, choirs, arts groups etc. the opportunity to promote their event in his weekly column. Over the years he must have indirectly contributed a great deal of time to the community. Les, we will miss you.’'

Former NWN associate editor Steve Rogers has fond memories of Les Chamberlain working together on the Evening Leader news desk in the late eighties and nineties.

He said: "Les was a fine journalist, fast and accurate and with an acute news sense having worked in the news cauldron of the Coventry Evening Telegraph. He brought a wealth of experience and always gave good advice, but more than anything he had a wicked sense of humour arriving with a smile and lifting everyone's spirits."

The Leader's sport editor Nick Harrison said: “Les was the old school journalist who could turn his hand to anything.

“Wrexham fans would feed on snippets from ‘my mate on the kop’ in his weekly Terrace Talk column in the Big Leader while he wouldn’t hold back when penning his theatre crits.

“He was a great character and someone who gave measured advice to young journalists on the Evening Leader.”

Former Leader journalist Ceidiog Hughes, who worked on the newsdesk with Les, added: “I was deeply saddened to hear about Les passing away and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.


“He was an excellent old school journalist and a bundle of energy with a great sense of humour, always with a quip at the ready.

“I have really fond memories of working with Les on the Leader newsdesk, along with Steve Rogers as news editor and the late Reg Herbert as editor. They were very happy days and we felt like a band of brothers."

Les died peacefully on Saturday (October 7) at the age of 90 at his home in Longhope, Gloucestershire, after a short illness.  

The funeral is expected to be held at St Giles Parish Church later this month.