Generous Les dies after active life in Sidmouth

PUBLISHED: 11:30 17 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:16 17 June 2010

THERE is no doubt former Sidmouth hotelier and developer Les Bacon, who died in Sidmouth Hospital last Wednesday, aged 91, enjoyed a full and active life. It was after his retirement from Stanhope Hotel, which he redeveloped, that Les hit the headlines.

THERE is no doubt former Sidmouth hotelier and developer Les Bacon, who died in Sidmouth Hospital last Wednesday, aged 91, enjoyed a full and active life.

It was after his retirement from Stanhope Hotel, which he redeveloped, that Les hit the headlines.

In 1963 he took up flying in his four-seater Piper Cherokee. When he gave up that in his early 70s, he bought a jet ski.

At 80, months after a stroke, he bought a 150mph Porsche Boxster - after first getting his doctor's permission to drive it.

"He led a tremendously full life," said his daughter Pat Dunn, who lives with husband Jerry in Exeter.

"He bought a boat in 1963 and we all used to go water skiing. From there he went to the jet ski.

"He drove around with a butcher's apron on and would get out of the car, tuck his apron in, roll up his trousers, go round the bay on it and come back."

In 1989 he was given the title Sidmouth Promenade Sweeper of the Year as a joke.

"He was a real character and had a very active life," said Colin Pyne of the Bedford Hotel, where Les was honorary president of Pyne's Bar coffee club.

"He always had a wonderful, optimistic outlook on life and would do anything for anyone. Nothing was too much trouble."

The sentiment was echoed by family friend Sheelagh Michelmore, whose biding memory of Les are the Christmas Day lunches he and his wife Ivy provided at Stanhope Hotel for elderly people on their own.

"Les had the idea and asked my husband - Dr Dick Michelmore - about it and went round other doctors who put forward names of people on their own at Christmas," she said.

"Les got friends to collect them and gave them a marvellous lunch and took them back after a cup of tea. He did it for many years and it was a wonderful gesture.

"He was very generous in a quiet way to a lot of people around Sidmouth."

Les was born in Coulsdon, Surrey, in November 1917. While a private in the Army, he was lost at Dunkirk; believed dead, but survived, although he never talked about the war so Pat doesn't know what happened to him.

After his return to civvy street he married Sidmouth girl Ivy Anstis in 1947; who died nine years ago, and before buying Stanhope Hotel in 1950 Les did engineering work.

For one development he remembered his birthplace, naming the road Coulsdon Road.

With a keen interest in cars, and owning various Porsche cars for 30 years until having to swap his Boxster for a Vauxhall Corsa, Pat remembers him 'converting' an Austin into a gang mower.

"He was ingenious, a very clever man, but most generous. I expect there will be a lot of people at his funeral," she said. "For 40 years he used to give his dustmen cooked breakfast when they came.

"He was caring, helpful and generous."

Les's funeral will take place at Sidmouth Parish Church on Monday, January 26 at 2pm. Donations will be taken for Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund.

"The cottage hospital looked after Dad so well I can't thank them enough. You are very lucky to have it here in Sidmouth.


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