Les King’s proudest achievement
PUBLISHED: 18:19 13 May 2013 | UPDATED: 18:19 13 May 2013
Former boxer and cinema manager Les King has many claims to fame. He’s been known as Norfolk’s ‘King of Sport’ and was once voted the biggest personality in Wymondham since Robert Kett.
But his proudest achievement is his work with charities.
And being patron of the Star Throwers charity, which supports people with cancer in Wymondham, is his biggest honour.
When I met him at his home from home, the Park Farm Hotel in Hethersett, he was wearing his chain as patron.
He said: “I went to the mayor’s civic reception in Wymondham once, and I was wearing my chain, and he was wearing his. But the better chain was mine as patron of Star Throwers.
“I have done five events for them including a 10-mile swimming race. I think it’s an honour to be patron of the charity.”
He’s also just been re-elected for the 28th year as chairman of the Friends of Chapel Road handicapped school in Attleborough. He has organised many charity events for the school and walked from London to Norwich and along the Peddars Way both ways to raise money.
And as chairman of the Friends of the Kett’s Lodge home for the elderly, which cares for and supports old people, he was instrumental in helping the residents get a television in their rooms.
His charity exploits and role in the community is highlighted at Park Farm Hotel, where he’s known by one and all.
He said: “I don’t go on holiday any more. The leisure centre there is the best in Norfolk. I come here every day. People that live locally are privileged to have it. I live three miles away, and I’ve got my jeep parked outside.”
He’s proud of his part in the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations last year. “I was very honoured to lead the procession through Wymondham. I made the speech to welcome people to Wymondham. It was the most people ever seen in Wymondham.”
Mr King is probably best known for running the Regal cinema in Wymondham for 30 years. He will be part of a reunion on June 29, when it will be 20 years since it closed.
He started at the cinema in 1965 when it was owned by Roy Dashwood.
“I was the doorman and torch boy and became Norfolk’s longest-serving cinema manager.”
When a disco-cum-club was added to the Regal, he brought top groups including Slade, and there were many cinema and disco events for charity.
As attendances at the cinema decreased he came up with some king-sized gimmicks to attract the people. During a western, he led a white horse down the aisle to add a little extra to the proceedings.
One of his greatest stunts was to persuade the pilot of the Sally B, a Flying Fortress, used in the movie Memphis Belle, to fly over Wymondham when the film, one of his favourites, was being shown. From the cinema he would climb on his scooter and head for the Washington Club which was opened in the 1960s by Mr Dashwood.
Some of the acts he looked after were Bob Monkhouse, Danny La Rue, Frankie Howerd, Ray Martine, Diana Dors, former Miss World Ann Sidney and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Mr King proudly boasts that he is life president of Wymondham Town and Wroxham FC, life patron of Norwich Lads Club, where he boxed aged 17, and chairman of Norwich and District ex-boxers’ association.
He’s written three books, King of Sports 1, 2 and 3, and when John Bond was manager of Norwich City he would often be on the team bus and was friends with players, Duncan Forbes and Roger Hansbury.
He used to run a firm called Olympic Removals and moved footballers when they left Carrow Road to go to their new homes. “I moved Steve Bruce to Man Utd, and Dave Watson to Everton.”
He later ran his King of Sport sports shop in Wymondham which is now a charity shop for Star Throwers.
He went to school in Hingham. “My dad George King used to have a steamroller and we lived in a caravan behind.”
At 18 he joined the army and spent 18 months in Korea. “In the army I represented the battalion in athletics, boxing, tug of war, and football.”
When he left the army he worked on the railways at Norwich.
He said he wanted to thank Kenny Cooke, who died last year, for his support over the years with boxing and football.