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Friends and family pay tribute to youth worker and social justice advocate Les Twentyman

Friends and family pay tribute to youth worker and social justice advocate Les Twentyman


Victorians from all walks of life have gathered in Melbourne to celebrate the life and legacy of Les Twentyman, one of the state's most passionate youth workers.

Mr Twentyman, who spent more than four decades working with homeless and at-risk young people, was named Victorian of the Year in 2006.

At the state funeral, held at Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral, politicians and community leaders sat shoulder-to-shoulder with youngsters proudly wearing Braybrook 96ers basketball club uniforms.

The club was founded by the Les Twentyman Foundation and its players were a shining reminder of the decades that Mr. Twentyman spent time working with the youth of Melbourne.

Les Twentyman sitting at a table with a birthday cake and candles.

Les Twentyman, pictured celebrating his 76th birthday in February.(Supplied: Les Twentyman Foundation)

Others in attendance wore red, white and blue ties or scarves, a sign of Mr Twentyman's commitment to the Western Bulldogs Football Club.

He played a critical role alongside his cousin Peter Gordon in saving the club from its merger with Fitzroy in 1989 and maintained a lifelong association with the club.

“His passion for football and our club was fierce and enduring,” the Western Bulldogs said in a statement following his death, with coach Luke Beveridge also in attendance at the memorial.

Twenty celebrated by those who knew him

Premier Jacinta Allan spoke on behalf of the people of Victoria and thanked Mr. Twentyman for his lifetime service to the community.

“On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Les for your words and work,” Ms Allan said.

Ms. Allan said she first met Mr. Twentyman as Minister for Youth Affairs in 2002.

“Les put me through my paces and I know from the many faces here today, I wasn't the only one.

“But you appreciated it, you welcomed it because you knew Les cared so deeply. He just refused to give up on his kids or let them give up on themselves.”

A cathedral with full pillars

Hundreds of people have paid tribute, including Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan and Minister Bill Shorten.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Federal Minister Bill Shorten said Les was a proud “son of the west” and a Victorian to his core.

“I think he was as much a part of this city as our mighty MCG,” Mr Shorten said.

“The people whose lives were changed and helped by Les could fill that mighty ground several times over.”

Mr Shorten said Mr Twentyman changed the course of countless lives through his work.

“Les made it his mission to lift the veil, to talk about the human cost of disadvantage, dependency, poverty, hardship,” he said.

“To speak for people who would otherwise be alone with their grief.”

Les Twentyman meets the Dalai Lama.

Mr Twentyman's work attracted many admirers, including the Dalai Lama.(SUPPLY)

Garry Twentyman said his brother would be thrilled with the state funeral service.

“I'm pretty sure Les is looking down here right now thinking 'dude, I wish I'd been on that microphone in front of all those people, I've never had a crowd that big before,'” he said.




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