Pitch renamed in honour of groundsman

Les Hole at the sports ground

Les Hole at the sports ground

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

FREELAND’S football and cricket pitch is set to be renamed to commemorate a groundsman who died last year.

Les Hole died on November 30 after a collision with a lorry at Smiths of Bletchingdon’s Burford Quarry.

The playing field, used by Freeland Football Club and Freeland Cricket Club, will be renamed the Les Hole Playing Field.

The father-of-three, who died aged 52, spent his evenings maintaining the village field and pitches.

He had also been a captain at the cricket club, where he had played for about 20 years.

Mr Hole’s eldest son Simon, 30, said: “He did so much work for the football and cricket club. He was down there every night from April to September.”

Les’s dedication to the job inspired Simon’s own career as a groundsman at Cokethorpe School, near Witney. He said: “As a kid, my brother and I were always down there helping my dad.

“That’s how I got into my job, learning from him on the pitch.”

Freeland FC secretary Ben Symonds said: “We were having a think about how we as a football club could remember him – we wanted to do something ourselves.

“We could have had a cup for the football club, but that would have been finding an award for the sake of it.

“We had a chat and thought there would be no better way than remembering him on the field.

“He’d be down there every evening. Everyone called the shed there Les’s Shed. It was done lovingly – it was his pride and joy.”

The club is now fundraising to install a plaque at the playing field.

Mr Symonds, 32, said: “We have done a collection through local people, anyone who wants to donate can. We haven’t counted it up yet, but we’ve banked over £200 so far.

“Anything that’s left over we’ll take to the Hole family for them to give to a charity of their choice.

“The plaque is being designed at the moment.

“Hopefully it’ll be noticeboard size to put up at the entrance of the playing field, and if there’s enough money we’ll get one for the changing rooms too.

“We’re hoping to have it all sorted in the next couple of weeks.”

The move was backed by Freeland Parish Council. Member Mary Ann Canning said: “It was so much a part of Les, we all remember him looking after the pitch.

“He did so much for that place. He was very involved with football club and they all still play there. They can go there to remember him – not that we’ll ever forget him. We just thought it would be a nice momento.”

The council are also looking for a new groundsman to care for the field since Les’s death.

Mrs Canning said: “You notice that he hasn’t been doing it, you can tell.

“The grass is growing and so on. We just took it all for granted.”

  • For more information contact Freeland Parish Council on 01993 880067 or email lisa.fpc@gmail.com


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