Caretaker died suddenly while talking to his best mate

Leslie 'The Race' Nash was talking to his best friend- adopted grandson Mitchell Cocker - when he passed away on Monday.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Leslie 'The Race' Nash was talking to his best friend- adopted grandson Mitchell Cocker - when he passed away on Monday.

Leslie Nash's life began 85 years ago when he was left on the doorstep of the Salvation Army in London - and ended in New Zealand while chatting to his best mate.

Nash, known as Pom, had been telling adopted grandson Mitchell Cocker about visits to Auckland when he suddenly passed away in his chair.

"He just collapsed in the lounge," Mitchell's mum Kerry-Anne said. "Pom would've been delighted that was where he ended his days."

Friends and adopted family of Leslie L to R Kerry-Anne Cocker, Mitchell Cocker, Matt Redshaw, Ross Cocker (front), Allen ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Friends and adopted family of Leslie L to R Kerry-Anne Cocker, Mitchell Cocker, Matt Redshaw, Ross Cocker (front), Allen Wilson, Hayley Cocker and Snowy the dog.

"He said something like...'I just got a call from my friend and he was quite sick,'" Mitchell recalled.

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He had briefly wondered if Pom was having him on. "He was a clown-and-a-half."

Leslie was known as Race, Paddles and Pom, which was painted on his letterbox.
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

Leslie was known as Race, Paddles and Pom, which was painted on his letterbox.

"That was the sort of thing he would've done," Kerry-Anne added.

The Cockers had many fond stories of 'Pom', a caretaker who lived on their family farm. He died on Monday and his funeral took place on Thursday.

They remembered him not being able to start a keyless car because he'd left the key inside the house, and painting the ceiling of the farm cottage where he lived orange.

Kerry-Anne told of one day she got a call from him saying his house was on fire. She went down to check and found him fanning the smoke away from the TV with a tea towel - not realising he was actually fuelling the flames in the process.

"All he was concerned about was the wrestling."

Nash, who served in the British Army, lived an extraordinary life, arriving in New Zealand from Australia in the early seventies

"His whole life was like a jigsaw puzzle, and everyone puts the pieces together but there's a few bits been lost down the back of the couch," Ross Cocker, Mitchell's father and Kerry-Anne's husband, said.

As a child Pom went from foster home to foster home. Often living in miserable conditions, he became a street kid, stealing food to survive.

He was given the nickname 'Race' by his cohorts, because it was always a race to get away from the scene of a theft.

He was also known as 'Paddles' at the Oakura Cricket Club, after his feet were run over by a British Army truck he had dived under for safety at the Suez Canal, or simply 'The Pom'.

"He was quite a character, that was for sure," Mitchell said.

He had a black dog called Snowy and a sheep that ate his grass known only as 'Sheepy'.

Neighbour Matt Redshaw said everyone in Oakura knew him.

"Basically there was nowhere else he wanted to be."

He said Pom had a rare natural humour.

"He could've had his own TV show. He was that good."

 

 

 - Stuff

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