Life was a Labour of laughs for Rugby political stalwart Les Bayliss

'A great guy': Les Bayliss
'A great guy': Les Bayliss

A freeman of Rugby who brought fun and laughter to the sometimes sober world of local politics has died.

Les Bayliss served the Benn ward for 17 years. He died on January 13 after suffering from dementia for almost a decade.

Rugby Constituency Labour party chairman Allan Webb served with Mr Bayliss and described him as a “great guy”.

Mr Webb said: “Les was a colleague of great conviction.

“He worked extraordinarily hard during his term in office with Rugby Borough Council and with the Labour Party over a number of years.

“I believe he was a member for almost 80 years – he devoted his life to its principles and to his trade union.

“Les was a character. Often he’d be serious then burst into laughter – he never let it get too serious.”

Daughter Wendy said: “Dad was a big Labour man but even when he had spats in the council chamber he never harboured any animosity to other sides.”

A keen follower of the old Valley Sports football club, during his career he fought to get a paddling pool at Whitehall rec earning himself the nickname ‘Puddle Bayliss’ which people would shout to him as he cycled around the borough. Another of his campaigns was to save the Orthodox Church in Clifton Road from demolition.

Mr Bayliss also attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace with daughter Wendy, and in 1980 while attending the Moscow Olympics as a spectator entered an over 50s sprint race – promptly winning and bringing home a gold medal.

“He was quite a character and everyone who knew him would have a story to tell,” said Wendy. “And he was a big practical joker.

“He was an electrician but he started a bread round when he was 14 and used to cycle all the way to Coventry and back.

“Even when his health started to deteriorate I used to come in most days and even if I’d had the worst day I’d be laughing my head off by the time I left.

“He was very passionate and if he had a bee in his bonnet he would really fight for what he believed.”

His council career was very much a family affair with Wendy recalling: “We used to ride round in his old Ford Anglia with speakers on the top saying ‘vote Labour, vote Bayliss.

“We will all desperately miss him even though we lost him as the dad we knew a number of years ago.”

Mr Bayliss had various jobs in Rutland, Burton-on-Trent, Gloucester and Coventry but after marrying late wife Margaret he settled into his trade as an electrician, joining the Electrical Trades Union and serving as a shop steward at GEC Willans Works for 30 years. He was also an avid member the Co-operative movement and served an earlier three-year term as a councillor in Brownsover starting in 1958.

He is survived by three children, Rosemary who now lives in Sydney Australia, and Colin and Wendy who both still live in Rugby, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson.

His funeral will take place at St Botolph’s church in Newbold on Thursday February 12 at 1pm followed by a wake at Hillmorton Railway Club.