Les is honoured in club’s hall of fame

Les Hayton with his family.
Les Hayton with his family.

A new plaque honouring a local sports figure has been unveiled.

Les Hayton was a key figure for Blyth Rugby Club in the 1960s, captaining the side on many occasions, and he has now been honoured in the club’s hall of fame.

Les, who now suffers from dementia, was joined by family and friends to view the plaque erected at the club.

The 88-year-old, from Bedlington, will guest of honour at the clubhouse on Saturday for the special event.

Son Ray, 57, said: “They still have photographs of his old team in the clubhouse and dad can remember quite a few of his former team mates.

“He was only diagnosed with dementia less than a year ago but the family had suspected for some time that all was not well.

“But he’s doing OK. He still lives alone and is quite independent, although he has home help coming in to do bits and pieces and make sure he takes his tablets.”

Les’ glory days as a rugby player were recognised thanks to his volunteer befriender Gordon Smiles, a community support worker for the Alzheimer’s Society.

He said: “I visit Les on a weekly basis and he’s a lovely guy. We go out for drives in the country and stop for coffees.

“He’d told me all about his rugby days so on one of our trips out we decided to pop into his old clubhouse.

“There were photos and plaques on the wall of former members, so I asked if Les could be included and they agreed.”

Ray added: “The Alzheimer’s Society’s befriending service is fantastic – it gives family members a break and my dad really looks forward to his trips out with Gordon.

“For anyone thinking about becoming a volunteer befriender, I’d say go for it – you’ll never know whether or not it’s for you unless you give it a shot.”

For details on becoming a befriender contact Suzanne Johnstone on (01670) 813255 or email Volsnorthumberland@alzheimers.org.uk