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on his own and as a couple with Liz. “I think looking the part is really important, but it comes at a cost. Full regalia is around £1,500 – complete with a long coat, breeches, waistcoat, buckled shoes and a tricorne hat. I have a red, blue and yellow one, which is popular around Dartmouth. I’ve recently had a ‘naval look’ regalia made, which is fitting because of our position by the water with the Royal Naval College, and it is splendid if I say so myself. I want to win for me, but also for Dartmouth. I’m representing the town and I want people to think it sounds so good they have to visit.” Les moved to Galmpton in 2002, before


yes.” He travels with them two or three times a year to do his tricks and give talks on being a town crier and Dartmouth’s rich history. There is little Les doesn’t know about Dartmouth’s


that he helped fight crime in London. He worked his way up the ranks starting as a police constable in his late teens and finishing as a detective constable working with the fraud squad, organised crime squad, flying squad (The Sweeney) and the ‘hotel’ squad. “There was a lot of crime connected to hotels in the 70s; prostitutes stealing belongings, people taking cases from lobbies, chambermaids selling skeleton keys. We had one occasion when a huge van pulled up outside the Metropolitan Hotel in Paddington and emptied TVs from every room!” At one stage he was tracking Lon- don’s top 200 criminals. “We used to have ‘tiger kidnaps’ where a gang would target a bank manager, following him for a few days to get information on his life and family (where the children went to school etc). Then one night they would grab him as he left the bank and tell him they had his children and if he didn’t open the safe and hand over money they’d kill them.” Les loved his time in the big smoke and when he


wasn’t catching criminals he would hang out in magic shops on his beat. He’s had an interest in magic ever since he was young and spent a few years in a Somer- set children’s home. “A member of staff did a trick with a pack of cards, turning four queens into four kings. I was so impressed I practised and practised and my love of magic grew from there.” Les often bumped into Tommy Cooper (when both were buying their magic tricks from the same shop) and they often went for a drink in the local pub. “I didn’t join the Magic Circle back then as the membership fee was a week’s wages, but I did regularly drink at the pub opposite so I could meet all the magicians!” Now Les entertains people at parties, corporate events, weddings and on cruise ships. “Liz and I enjoy cruising, we’ve been on the QE2 nine times! I once went with a group of magicians and I was chosen to entertain senior staff in the Ward Room. Then Jim Bowen (from Bullseye) spotted me and invit- ed me to work on the ship, I couldn’t give up my police role, but I really liked the idea. Last year I was doing a few tricks on a Fred Olsen cruise and they offered me an opportunity to be a guest speaker and an enter- tainer - with no full time commitments this time I said


He loves telling


people about ‘Dartmouth’s hidden past’


history as he currently does town tours. He loves telling people about ‘Dartmouth’s hidden past’ when most of the streets we know today were covered in water and there were shady goings on at the quayside with smugglers and prostitutes in the red light district (be- hind M&S). Les has been asked to do a Mayflower trail for visitors during the celebrations next summer to mark the 400 year anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers sailing into Dart- mouth for repairs before their journey to America. Les says it won’t be a hard role for him because he remembers dates like most people remember a shopping list. “We are expecting thousands of people, many will be bussed in from Plymouth and Torbay. Some will be descendents of the actual pilgrims who will want to learn


about their ancestor’s journey. We will show people Bayards Cove where the boats came in and buildings and streets in the town which would have been around then. There will be lots of events to take part in.” Les is looking forward to being part of the celebrations and says it’s great to be able to show Dartmouth at its best and let the world know what an important role we played in the historic event.


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