Wilkes Stan

Stan Wilkes


Born in the 1930s in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Stan Wilkes was a YCL activist, certainly by the time Fidel Castro entered Havana with his liberation troops on January 1st 1959. For Stan used to say that he began the task of allowing his trademark moustache to grow the day this happened, vowing never to shave it off unless Castro was ever overthrown. Of course, he wasn’t and neither did Stan ever loose the moustache.


Stan had been a member of the YCL executive for some time when he was a key figure in the early 1960s campaign amongst unemployed youth on Tyneside, initiated and led by the YCL.


He was appointed the full-time City Secretary of the Coventry Communist Party in 1965.  In 1972, he was made unemployed since the local Party could no longer afford to employ their own full-timer.


Stan reinvigorated youthful artistic pursuits in this period of enforced leisure. He was a useful muralist and painter of banners and took up wood carving, which he performed to a very high standard.


He married late in  life, to fellow Communist, actress Val Lester, who had had a career on DDR (east German) television and then at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry in its educational outreach links with schools. They had a son, Joe, together. Val and their son assumed the Wilkes name.


In 1974, Stan was appointed full-time City Secretary for the Birmingham Communist Party, when a vacancy arose as Frank Watters assumed the District Secretaryship vacated by Harry Bourne. (See separate entries.)


Stan’s health did not allow him to cope well with the strains. His health had been poor even during his Coventry period and what may have been TB resurfaced with a vengeance, causing him to opt for a quieter life as a caretaker and sometime wood carver in 1975.  Stan Wilkes was then followed by John Bloomfield (see separate entry) as the full-time worker for Birmingham Communists.


Stan died of ill-health during the early 1980s.