Les Fitton

Les Fitton

25 May 1925 to 16 July 2023

Born in Manchester, Les enjoyed sports at school in the late 1930s. Winning a leather football in a national handwriting competition, he broke his leg in the local recreation ground. Just eight weeks after this, he won the 220 yards and 440 yards at his school sports, repeating the feat the following year.

He was successful in all areas of Scouting and in the Air Training Corps (ATC), taking part in several sports. He excelled at ATC meetings throughout Lancashire and Cheshire in all distances up to one mile with some success.  He became the South Lancashire ATC 440 yards champion.

On joining the RAF in 1943, he ran in many short distance events in the South East, with further medals coming his way. He gained fitness and he became RAF Southern Command Champion at 220 yards.  However, on transfer to air-crew duties to the Middle East, his active career faded,

Les had a great interest in sports, especially football and athletics. He started as a Manchester City fan, switching to Manchester United as a boy. He was able to see Newcastle United in their glory years before moving to London and supporting Crystal Palace. He visited most football grounds in England and Scotland, helped by his RAF postings nationwide.

Athletics remained his major interest and he quickly became re-involved when his son started breaking sprint records in the late 1960s. Les became Herne Hill Harriers’ (HHH) Honorary General Secretary in October 1970 and remained in that post for six years. Only one previous Hon Gen Sec had held the seat for a longer period.

He became a very popular figure, not only in HHH but among other local clubs and in the London and South London Schools Championships, in which he officiated for many years. He was a AAA graded timekeeper and sat for a short time on the Surrey County Committee.

Track and Field meetings were his forte and he rarely missed a HHH home fixture – cross country and road too. He was a regular at the club’s British and Southern League ‘away’ meetings, where he was joined by his wife Vera.

Les attended HHH’s inter-club track and field matches abroad in Sweden, Denmark and Belgium and maintained the Swedish connection as Team Manager for successful HHH road and cross country squads, supplying individual and team winners in the later 1970s.

Les was rewarded with Presidency of HHH in 1976/77, retaining the honour the following year.  It was very rare for the HHH President to serve two consecutive terms.

Life member Kevin Kelly spoke of Les’ ‘immense contribution to the Herne Hill Harriers and that they were very fortunate to have had such an honest, loyal and capable man who was prepared to devote so much of his time to assist the club in so many ways over so many years.’

Les remained throughout a social member of the club attending formal dinner dances and post-match celebrations.

Les was married to Vera for 68 years until she died aged 102 in 2020. They took an outgoing interest in life and travel, taking part in many activities. Their love of dancing kept them both fit into their 90s as they travelled to London three times a week to dance. Vera and Les were dedicated to each other and Vera gave her full support to Les and his activities with HHH.

Les was a gentleman, polite, modest and generous. He continually placed others first at the expense of himself. He was friendly, popular and sociable, yet quiet. Dick Manson has said that. ‘Les truly was one of nature’s gentleman. A great Lancastrian, who participated in life and made the world a better place for those lucky enough to know him. I count myself among the lucky ones for that reason!’

Les leaves a son, Paul, daughter in law Sandra and three grandchildren, Tom, Jack and Charlotte.

Les’ funeral will be held on Monday 14 August 2023 at 1.45pm at Bluebell Crematorium, Old London Rd, Halstead, Sevenoaks TN14 7AE. The ceremony will be streamed online. Friends and representatives are invited to attend and celebrate Les’ life afterwards at our home in Orpington. An RAF Spitfire will fly over the house during the afternoon.  

Please RSVP to Paul at paulfitton200@outlook.com if you would like to attend, for further details or if you would like to share any memories of Les.