A TALENTED pianist from Chard has written nearly 600 songs after deciding to start playing again following a 30- year break.

Les Beresford learnt to tinkle the ivories when he was eight and took lessons until he was 15.

His mother used to pay half-acrown for his weekly lessons and he reached an impressive Grade 5 in his music exams.

Les moved to Combe St Nicholas with his parents when he was 19. He met Dianne, his now wife of 47 years, and they moved into their current house in Coronation Street in Chard.

But after a spell of ill health, Les said he was unable to play the piano for the next 30 years.

He said: “I always knew I could still play, I just had to prove it to myself.”

In 1991, during a stint in the former Tone Vale Hospital near Taunton, Les spotted it had a piano and decided to give it a go.

He said: “I wondered if I could still write and play, so I decided to write about my daughter – I never knew whether I could do it but I wrote this song in around two hours.

“When you can write a song quickly, you know it is a good song because it flows.

“A song can take three weeks to write and play but they are never as good because you tweak them and change bits – the first thoughts in a song are often the best.”

Over the next 23 years Les wrote hundreds of songs and kept a collection of all his lyrics and music, along with making CDs and DVDs of his work.

In 2012, he wrote a song to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee.

His songs cover a range of topics, including family members, towns, religious subjects and love songs.

He said: “I just enjoy it and it helps me remember family members and bring back memories.

It is a therapy for me – music helps me live my life to the full.”

Les said he hopes to continue writing and playing songs so that he can break the 600-mark very soon.

He wanted to thank Malcolm Taylor, Anne and Californian Joe Perez, the staff at Chard Library and Peter, Chris and members of Talon Music for their support over the years.