TRIBUTES have been paid to former Dorchester Royal British Legion president Les Cuff.

Mr Cuff, who was a respected Dorchester resident, and was the last chairman of the town's Conservative Club, died aged 87.

Dorset Echo: Picture – The late Les CuffPicture – The late Les Cuff

He was heavily involved with the community and enjoyed a chat, sharing his sparkling sense of humour, with many knowing him as a key figure in town's remembrance services - often taking one of the main roles.

His partner of more than 30 years, Wendy said: "He would always turn out, no matter how he was feeling.

"A lot of people will really miss him. He was respected by just about anyone."

Dorset Echo: Les Cuff at a county town memorial serviceLes Cuff at a county town memorial service

His funeral, which because of Covid regulations was restricted to close family, took place at St Mary’s church, Edward Road on May 13.

Mr Cuff was born at Farnham near Sixpenny Handley and after losing both his parents at an early age was cared for by his grandmother for a short period before living in children’s homes in Salisbury and Weymouth, where he watched the build-up of troops for D-Day.

He followed his older brothers into the armed forces, but did not see front-line service, although he had signed up to do so.

In his civilian life he has worked on farms in and around the county and in retirement continued his passion for tractors and steam engines, undertaking a range of restoration projects.

"I used to say that other people had flowers in their garden – but we had tractors and tractor parts," said Wendy.

He was secretary of the West Dorset Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Club and over a decade had helped, with Wendy, stage annual shows at West Bay and other gatherings.

Mr Cuff, like others of his era, left school at 14 and after a brief spell at a paper shop signed on as an apprentice with Jack Jolliffe in Weymouth as a painter and decorator where he stayed until his call-up papers came when he was put in the Medical Corps because of his experience with St John Ambulance in the south Dorset town.

Dorset Echo: Les with then mayor, Susie Hosford, at the 2017 remembrance serviceLes with then mayor, Susie Hosford, at the 2017 remembrance service

In a previous interview Les said: "I was eventually posted to Tidworth Military Hospital, but I couldn’t stick working on the wards. Then, one day, they called for volunteers to be parachute medics. I couldn’t say 'thank you' quick enough. I also wanted to see some action."

But the nearest he got to military action was being called up for the Suez Crisis, although even that did not go as expected.

He said: "We were all loaded up in the plane with the engines running all ready to go when the pilot got the call that it was being aborted. My friends all went abroad but I never got out of the country," he said.

Mr Cuff was working at Lower Skippet Farm near Dorchester when he first became involved with the Royal British Legion.

"We had hundreds of members and the building was nowhere near big enough so we moved to Fordington, but that eventually went in the early 1990s and we ended up meeting wherever we could - usually in pub skittle alleys," said Mr Cuff.

Les passed away at home on April 22 after a short illness. Husband to the late Lillian and partner of Wendy - he was father to three sons and a daughter and grandfather, or great-grandfather to 14.

Donations, if desired, to the Royal British Legion Blandford or Weldmar Hospicecare may be sent by cheque payable to Woods Dorchester Ltd, 11a Icen Way, Dorchester, DT1 1EW Telephone 01305 250425