Vet a commanding mentor

Parkwood resident Len Winton is a war veteran, a mentor, a grandad and a gentleman who has influenced the lives of more students than he could possibly know.

One of those students, someone he barely remembers, approached him in the supermarket to thank him for helping change his life forever.

Those two words � thank you � have spurred the grandad to continue to make a difference.

The former army and navy man started helping kids after he retired at the age of 65.

Not having free time, he took on a janitor role at Aquinas College where his wife works.

�Sometimes when I went into the toilets I�d find boys crying and I said �come and sit outside, I�m not a teacher, talk to me�, and we�d talk,� Mr Winton said.

�There was a time in my life where I used to sleep in paddocks and I used to beg for food. I had a hard time. I used to talk to the kids and help them out.�

The father-of-one said he worked at the college for about three years before notifying the school psychologist that he was leaving.

She suggested he become a mentor.

�She said every kid that came to see her had already spoken to me,� Mr Winton said.

He did a training course and now spends five mornings a week educating children about war and the importance of Anzac Day.

�I get a bit choked up � to march on Anzac Day is one of my big adventures in life; it�s an amazing experience,� he said.

�After the march I go to Fremantle and you never buy a beer.

�You sit there and people come up with their children and want to shake hands and say thank you � it�s the day of the year for me.�

Mr Winton spent three years in the army and six years in the navy, spending three of those years aboard the HMAS Vampire.

�I left the ship in 1962 and I still get Christmas cards every year from the chaps that are still alive. Being in the navy was the best time of my life.�