Les Stopher 1920-2011 RIP

Les Stopher the legendary swimming instructor at JLR RAC died in March 2011 age 90. In respect to this human legend,I felt this news deserved a thread of it's own and should not be buried in the huge JLR thread. To those "catterick commandos" who never knew Les, you missed out big time! To those ex JLR's who had the honour of knowing Les, we have lost a real friend. RIP Les, I will never forget you.

Photo is of the Surf Life saving club 1971




He made the swimmimg lessons a laugh, and light relief from the hard graft of stickies.
I remember him trying to teach us synchronised diving. A total disaster.
Top bloke !!
My recollection of Les.

I joined JLR in 1975 having had a very brief moment of indecision when I entered the Matelot office in Plymouth. One glance at a Leander class Frigate hammering across the ocean...............all that water............all that water....................confirmed to this non swimmer that I'd been right all along............tanks....better and more fun and, of course drier, than a frikkin ship!!!!!!
So, off to JLR and, after only 2 weeks it was time to....................learn how to frikkin swim!!! So, we non swimmers filed along the pool side and were addressed by Les who informed us there was nothing to be scared of as he walked across our fronts pushing us backwards into the pool, luckily not the deep nor too shallow end!!! Learning to swim was conducted in a most civilised manner with only mild threats. "Right lads, in order to pass the BMT, you must do breast stroke......not only quiet in tactical situations but also the most energy efficient stroke". My befuddled mind was now on the wonders that would be, as a tank crewman, swimming through
a: A river or
b: The fecking sea!!!
Course the BMT was the first hurdle so, with muscular aches we never knew we had, we all launched into the deep end to tread water for 7 minutes pushing each other under in an attempt to stay afloat amid what seemed liked hundreds of us!!! Then off, 3 times round the perimeter of the pool when finally, we were to scale the deep end poolside with no ladder to help us out amid much shouting from Sgts Abrams 1RTR, and Wallace SDG.
My arm muscles were now in seizure and, try as I might there was no getting out under my own steam!! Les, seeing my struggle simply turned on his be-pumped feet and strolled off to the far end murmering simply, "Sgt Wallace!!" Who promptly reached down behind me and with the force of Charles Atlas, effected and extremely painful 'wedgie' on my issue budgie smugglers causing me to shoot from the water like a penguin from the ocean in front of a killer whales snapping jaws!!
Les, now turned and, simply said, "There you go lads, all passed" and exited the pool!!!
Class act and I'm thankful I can swim. RIP Les and, wherever you are, watch out for the high board!!
Yea, I decided when I joined JLR, that water polo would be good idea,as a good swimmer. What a mistake!.
I was knackered after 5 minutes.
Did Volleyball instead,ha ha
As a Catterick Commando unfortunately I never had the pleasure to meet Les however I constantly have heard from many tankies about his legendary status.
Extremely sorry to have never met you Les,hopefully I will have this absolute pleasure when I eventually go to the green fields
Rest In Peace Les
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