Les Packham

Artist Les Packham
Artist Les Packham
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LES Packham, road safety campaigner, charity fundraiser and talented watercolour artist, died peacefully in Wakefield hospice on Saturday.

Mr Packham, 70, was born in Keighley and grew up in Sussex but returned to his birthplace in 1964 as a young police constable.

In 1966 he met Judy, his future wife, and the couple married the following year, moving to Wakefield where they brought up their two children Owen and Shelley.

An interest in motoring led to Mr Packham becoming a Class 1 police driver and motorcyclist; he was responsible for major accidents, crimes and was an expert in Ordnance Survey

In addition, he was able to utilise his skill as an artist and designed the liveries on police vehicles.

In 1973 he formed the Wakefield Motorcycle Training Scheme RAC/ACU to help reduce the increasing number of accidents caused by untrained riders. He was then appointed Institute Advanced Motorists’ (IAM) examiner for cars and commercial vehicles and motorcycles.

This dedication to the welfare of others was recognised when he was made an MBE in the Millennium honours list for his services to road safety.

Upon his retirement from
the police force in 1991, Mr Packham was able to devote more time to his art and taught himself to paint watercolours
by studying the techniques
of the early English watercolourists.

His widow said: “It was as if Les was a man of two halves. There was the busy policeman, involved in high-speed pursuits and the gentle watercolourist who liked nothing better than to spend time painting and drawing in the Yorkshire countryside.

“His inspiration was the constantly changing light and atmosphere of the Yorkshire landscape and coast.”

Mr Packham has exhibited in London, Yorkshire and the United States, and his customers include countless private collectors and corporate bodies.

With the help of his wife, he produced two art-based books; his first being Yorkshire in Watercolour, which was published in May 2010 and featured more than 60 watercolour illustrations of the county; his second, which featured the Settle to Carlisle railway line, was published in 2013.

He also produced annually the calendar Yorkshire in Watercolour which invariably was a sell-out.

He raised many thousands of pounds for charity and memorably once rode 1,400 miles on his motorcycle in 24 hours to raise funds for the widows and orphans of the Falklands war, an achievement which saw him being presented to the Queen on her visit to Bishopgarth.

Photographer Nigel Tooby, a friend of Mr Packham’s for more than 20 years, said: “He was one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

“His deep love and respect 
for the natural environment 
and for his fellow beings flowed onto the paper through his brushes.”

Mr Packham is survived by Judy, his children Owen and Shelley and grand-daughter Holly.

A service of thanksgiving and memorial is to be held at West Wakefield Methodist Church, Thornes Road, Wakefield, on Tuesday at 11.15am.

In lieu of flowers the family would like donations to go to Wakefield Hospice.