Chonkinfeckle star Les suffers stroke

Les Hilton
Les Hilton

A popular Wigan folk band is taking a break for a few months after its ukulele player suffered a stroke.

Les Hilton, from Chonkinfeckle, fell ill on Wednesday last week at his home in Goose Green.

He was rushed by ambulance to Salford Royal Hospital, where doctors found he had suffered a stroke.

Les said: “They did some brain scans and MRI scans and found a blood clot right in the centre of my head, which has affected my right leg and right arm and my face. It’s all down the right-hand side of my body really.

“It affects my walking and how I eat because I can’t feel one side of my face.

“The main thing is it has robbed me of my ability to play musical instruments. I can’t co-ordinate my hand anymore.

“It’s a bit of nuisance because I teach music for a job, so I have no way of making a living.”

Les was cared for by specialist staff at the hospital and has now returned home to recuperate.

Healthcare workers have already visited him and he has been given exercises to help his recovery.

Les said: “I have been doing a series of exercises to get strength back and dexterity into my hands and feet.

“Unfortunately there is nothing to say how long it will take - six weeks, six months or never is the answer.”

Les said he has already made progress, with improvements to his walking and balance.

He and bandmate Tim Cooke have announced they will now take a break from performing while he recovers.

They have cancelled bookings on New Year’s Eve and in January, and will see how Les recovers before making a decision about future gigs.

But Les is optimistic that he will return to the stage and is doing whatever he can to get there.

“Music is about the only thing I do. That’s how I make my living and how I get my enjoyment,” he said.

“To have it taken away from me... the least I can do is try to get it back.”

Les plays a host of instruments, including ukulele, cigar box guitar and harmonica, and his teaching work includes an after-school club at Atherton St George’s CE Primary School and at Age UK in Hindley.

Chonkinfeckle describe their music as modern day folk songs. The duo rose to prominence in 2014 when their song I’m From Wigan Me became the official anthem of Wigan Athletic’s journey to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Singer and musician Tim visited Les in hospital and amused him by re-enacting a Laurel and Hardy sketch.

He has also been to see him at home and has been in regular contact with him.

Messages of support have also been pouring in from friends and fans of Chonkinfeckle.

Tim said: “On Facebook and social media there have been countless messages and I have also had a few private messages and Les has as well.

“That’s been a great pick-me-up for him.”