Pride of Britain: The man who has spent his retirement raising funds for Dartmoor rescue team

  • Meet Pride of Britain finalist Les Agar

Each year, ITV West Country searches for a Regional Fundraiser of the Year as part of the national Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Award.

One of our eight shortlisted nominees is Les Agar, who has spent his retirement raising money for the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue team.

Les dedicated his life to mountain rescues when he joined the team in 1978. Since retiring in 2015, he has swapped his boots for a bucket and stands outside the Budgens petrol station in Okehampton and raised more than £52,000 for the rescue team.

The charity needs at least £24,000 a year so they are able to respond to any callout quickly and safely. The donations collected by Les help make that possible.

He said: "I thought well, you know, I can't go out with the team anymore so at least I can still support them.

"It's one man, one stool, one bucket. I could pick up £150-200 or it might be £25 or £30 - it doesn't matter. It's just doing it with the presence.

"I mean I'd never have expected this in my life."

Les joined the North Dartmoor Search and Rescue team in 1978 and has dedicated mountain rescues ever since

During the past seven years, the money Les has raised has become a constant for the charity. He has also become a regular sight on the petrol station forecourt.

One visitor at the station said: "He's a top man, isn't he. He sits here in all weathers, snow, rain. He sits here, never makes you feel guilty. He's just a top man. Well done you."

Those who are currently working for the rescue team say they proud of Les and say his Pride of Britain nomination is very well deserved.

Vehicle officer Kit Hancock said: "He is up at the local service station after work, evenings, weekends,  bank holidays, pretty much every day of the week. When he's not doing that he's on the phone to classic car shows, and rotary clubs. It's a testament to his character and his enthusiasm for it."

North Dartmoor Search and Rescue team during training

The money Les raised goes towards maintaining their equipment.

Training officer Cathy Horwell said: "We need equipment, we've got Land Rovers to run. We've got technical equipment, we've got ropes. We've got a lot of casualty equipment. Flints, vacuum mattresses etc.

"So there are all the costs of those. There are also a lot of hidden costs with the team. If we need a new tyre for the Land Rover, we just need that money in the bank. That's where the funds Les has raised are so important."