Remembering Les Nurse

The highly respected and popular industry veteran sadly passed away on Monday 6 July

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 08.07.2020 | Business

Remembering Les Nurse thumbnail

TNP.MEDIA is sad to report the sudden passing of toy industry stalwart Les Nurse on Monday 6 July 2020.

Les was highly respected and popular with his customers and competitors alike.     

Clive Jones, honorary secretary of the Fence Club, has shared the following eulogy: 

“Les Nurse was a colourful character, well known for his vibrant jackets, bright ties and effervescent personality.  

His use of cockney rhyming slang always made us laugh. And he always had a lovely welcome for any of his friends, wherever he met them in the world. Les was a real effervescent personality. 

He was a South Londoner who started his working life in a Bank, but very quickly decided that wasn't for him. His selling career started at Sunway Blinds and then he moved to A.J. Siris, a company who manufactured cosmetic bags. He became a partner at Frankle & Roth with Ken Knight, creating a successful bag business that concentrated on character licences. In the 1990's they sold out to Mike Redfearn's Copywrite Company. Les remained with Copywrite selling the really popular Polly Pocket stationery and bag ranges and, as Mike says, teaching his sales staff how to close a sale! Les was one of the best in the business. 

Eighteen months later he set up as a far east agent working with a number of companies. These included, Hong Kong Toy Centre where he worked with Joe Brewer, and Super Toys, where he worked with Philip Wong manufacturing pre-school toys for Woolworths, under the Chad Valley brand, and for Mothercare. He also worked with Lisi Dolls and Mega Gain – an OEM manufacturer. In all these ventures he worked with his nephew Jonathan Nurse, who is also a fence Club member. 

In the UK, Les worked with his great friend Derek Morris looking after major accounts for Derek's business MV Toys & Sports. He retired in 2013. 

Les was a great lover of golf. He was captain of West Kent Golf Club from 1998 to 1999 and organised many golf trips with his friends. 

Fewer people will know Les was a tremendous swimmer, having played water polo for Kent. 

In 1998 he took over the running of the Fence Club golf day, assisted by Jonathan. They introduced the now famous auction at the end of the evening, finding, "items", for the, "punters", that they didn't know they needed or even wanted.  

On a number of occasions, Les managed to get hold of a hard-to-get new golf club – usually a driver. This was sold for a top dollar price. Seconds later he would find another driver that was in short supply behind his screen, which was also sold for a good price. On a really good night a third driver might have also been produced from behind the screen. All of this entertainment was carried off with huge smiles and plenty of humour. In 1998 the event made a profit of £1500; in 1999 it made £3000 and in the eight years that he ran the golf day, it raised over £60,000 for the Fence Clubs children's charities. 

Les became a member of the Fence Club in 1989 and at least twice turned down the opportunity to join the committee. This was a sad loss for the club, as he would have made a very colourful chairman.  

In 2002, Les was given a certificate of appreciation by the Fence Club for all his work on the Golf day. And, at the Wall Members’ Lunch in 2015, he was given honorary membership of the club – an honour that gave him great pleasure. The attached photo is of Les just after he was presented with his honorary member’s badge by Richard Keel, who was Chairman in 2015. This outfit is pretty tame compared to some that he wore! 

In 2018, Les's wife Brenda passed away after a long illness, during which he lovingly looked after her. At this very sad time, our thoughts are with his daughters Louise and Lisa, and his three grandchildren. 

It is likely that there will be a private funeral service in August. Once the pandemic has passed, this will be followed by a memorial service, where Les’ family and friends will be able to celebrate his wonderful life, which was just short of 80 years.”   

 
 
 

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