“I have owned many boats, from simple little sailing dinghies to a 40 foot canal cruiser though I sold my last boat a few years ago and have since had a motorhome and more recently a caravan so that we can escape to the country in comfort when the need arises. A few years ago I was seriously into geocaching and would structure many of my holidays and even business trips around the location of caches – I even arrived at a crematorium a couple of hours early so that I could find a series of caches before the funeral started.”

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Being a new entrepreneur, it has become more difficult for Les to take time away from the shop. “Because the business is new, it takes up all of our time. We are having so much fun with it at the moment, but the caravan sits on the drive and will surely be used soon. I love meeting up with friends occasionally for a meal and, in the summer, I enjoy a bit of gardening. My dogs are a great source of fun and there’s no greater pleasure than taking them to the lake or the beach and watching them darting in and out of the water chasing balls and sticks.”

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His interest in teaching, however, has not lessened with his change in careers. “I have built a little studio workshop in the back of the shop and installed a lathe and a basic set of equipment to go with it. Customers are free to stand and watch me turn, and some have joined in, most notably, a young lad who made a simple magician’s wand, he (and his parents) were really pleased with it. I plan to develop this side of the business by offering classes but am aware that as a self-taught turner, I need to adjust and perfect some of my techniques before I start teaching wood-turning. My main workshop at home is tiny, so I will have to build a new workshop/studio before teaching can start.”

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Les also has very sound advice for the new turners- “In the early stages, just enjoy your work. Don’t work in a vacuum, like I did, but seek out other turners and get your inspiration from them. Invite constructive criticism and act upon it. Don’t be afraid to accept defeat; far better to give up on a failing piece of work than to waste time trying to elevate its status.”

I imagine that being a professional artist is something many of us daydream about but few are able or willing to do. Les puts it in perspective. “What motivates me is my simple love of wood turning, alongside the buzz that I get from determining my own future. Having worked in industry and education for most of my life, I have had to temper my efforts to match the performance criteria that others wished to measure. All that nonsense stopped when I resigned and set up Pren. My work is not stress-free, but it is a dawdle compared with what I have experienced in the world of work. I strive to achieve pleasing designs, of a high quality, but at a sensible price.”

“For much of my life I have been a bit of a drifter, steering a path where circumstances seem to take me, rather than taking control of my own journey. I started to question that path after the horrid events of last year and determined to do something about it – hence ‘Pren’.”

Clearly Les has had his share of challenges recently between his life changing assault and injury followed by his wife Sally’s diagnosis of cancer shortly after opening up their shop earlier this year. Fortunately, Les tells me that the cancer was caught early and after surgery and radiation therapy, she is felt to be cancer free. I have not yet had the opportunity to meet Les but I can tell from our correspondences that, despite all he’s been through recently, he remains a very positive and upbeat guy who seems to always find the bright side of a situation. If I ever do make it to Wales, I will certainly visit “Pren” and hopefully get a chance to sit down with the proprietor for a pint at the local pub.

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Wednesday the 21st. Thanks for visiting Woodturners Unlimited.