Tributes paid to artist and road safety campaigner
Les Packham MBE, road safety campaigner, charity fundraiser and talented watercolour artist, died peacefully in Wakefield Hospice on Saturday.
Mr Packham, aged 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 ordinance survey maps.
In addition, he was also 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 amount 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 in the awarding of an MBE in the millennium new year 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.
Judy 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 USA 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 always 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 Falkland’s conflict. 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, WF2 8QR on Tuesday December 8, at 11.15am. In lieu of flowers the family would love donations to go to Wakefield Hospice.
His unique appreciation of the dales and his passion for painting can still be enjoyed on-line at www.lespackham.co.uk