Tributes paid to dedicated "rain or shine" Marlow fundraiser

Bucks Free Press: Les with the trophy awarded to him by colleagues Les with the trophy awarded to him by colleagues

STAFF and customers at a High Street charity shop have paid tribute to a former army sergeant who selflessly gave up hours of his time every week to raised thousands of pounds for the cause.

Les Willmott was a familiar face at Marlow's British Heart Foundation shop since it opened four years ago, operating street collections and welcoming customers before he passed away last week.

The ever-reliable charity supporter was even awarded a trophy by fellow volunteers in recognition of his tireless efforts.

Shop manager Sarah Cannon praised his dedication to a charity close to the 69-year-old’s grandfather’s heart, which saw him raise over £6000 in his time volunteering in Marlow.

She said: "It was great to have him here, two days a week and at around three to four hours a time. He would welcome customers and just generally help us out in any way he could.

"He was a private man, and liked things to be done properly - he was always very respectful. A lot of people will be sad to know he’s gone because he was a real fixture here.

"He was here like clockwork and never let us down. He always turned up, regardless of the weather. It was brilliant to have someone you know you could rely on.

"We have people coming in the shop who have found out he died and say they remember him well and would always put a pound in the tin because of him."

Mr Willmott, whose family live in Essex, served as a sergeant in Royal Signal Regiment for 23 years.

He was awarded medals for long service, good conduct and for serving in Northern Ireland.

The keen Machester United fan, who lived on Crown Lane, also enjoyed music and comedy.

Mr Willmott had a long history of supporting the British Heart Foundation, and himself suffered from a heart condition like his father before him.

In his younger years, the former military man took on gruelling cycle challenges for the charity, riding from London to Brighton and a separate ride from the capital to Southend.

He leaves behind two children and four grandchildren. His funeral will be held at 1pm on Tuesday at The Chilterns Crematorium in Amersham, with a drink afterwards at O'Donoghues on Spittal Street, Marlow.

The family has requested no flowers but there will be a collection box for donations to the British Heart Foundation.

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