Les was in the Navy during the Second World War but it was through his peacetime work as a sales rep, selling bootlaces and buttons, that he became familiar with the shop and its owner Tommy Foyle. In 1947, two years after Tommy passed away, Les began courting his widow Elsie Foyle, and was not put off by the fact that she had two young daughters. When Elsie agreed to marry him, he insisted that the girls keep Tommy's name.
Les gave up his job as a salesman to help out at the shop. Not long after he joined the family, he was accused of giving Elsie's daughter Shelagh bruises. Shelagh was distressed to see the finger pointed at her stepdad and confessed to her mother that she was being bullied at school.