Les strums his way to stroke recovery

Les Hilton
Les Hilton

Half of a popular Wigan folk duo has returned to the stage - just months after suffering a stroke.

Les Hilton, from Chonkinfeckle, fell ill in December and the right-hand side of his body was affected.

It meant he was unable to play the ukulele and other instruments or return to his job as a music teacher.

But he has started to play music again as part of his recovery. And he has now performed in public with bandmate Tim Cooke for the first time since the stroke, joining Whiskey In The Jar at Chorley Little Theatre.

Les, who lives in Goose Green, said: “It was great. It was like I had never been away. I was very comfortable on stage. It’s like sitting down chatting to old friends.”

Les started playing music to help with his recovery after the stroke. He said: “The stroke team think the best therapy for getting things working again is to try and play music. There is no exercise they can offer that’s better than actually playing.

“I have been trying to do that from day one because that’s what I did for a living.”

Les is able to strum the ukulele again and play some songs, though he cannot yet play everything he did before.

He spends time with Tim each week to work out what he is well enough to play.

Les has also been using a cigar box guitar, which has just three strings, is tuned to an open chord and is easier to play. He plays along to a drum loop and has been recording songs as part of his therapy.

He said: “I have got a bunch of these tunes together and while I have been sitting in the chair for the last three months I have been writing some little short songs on the current situation.

“I have been using the cigar box guitar with these songs that reflect my current predicament and I have been recording these. I ended up with about 20 of these little songs.”

Les now plans to release them to thank people involved in a Lesfest fund-raiser in his honour and to raise money for the Stroke Association.

He has produced a book with the song lyrics and information about the instruments he uses, while Tim is recording lyrics for it.

Les will give the album - named Voodoo Stick - to those involved with Lesfest for free, while other people will be asked to give to 
charity.

To request a copy of the album, email Les at chonkinfeckle@gmail.com.