A COMMUNITY stalwart from Fordingbridge has died at the age of 80 after a life dedicated to the town’s young people.

Les Coombs, who was born at Fryern Court in 1934, died on May 29 after losing his 18-month fight against cancer.

Mr Coombs became the caretaker at the Avonway School in 1972 and moved to the Penny’s Lane site when the school transferred in 1974, where he remained a firm fixture until he retired in 1994.

During that time, Mr Coombs organised many fundraising and charity events, including the annual rustic sports day, which was held every year at the recreation ground between 1973 and 1982.

He volunteered at Fordingbridge Youth Club, acted as the “resident chef” at the Scout camps and was instrumental in setting up the skateboard park at Avonway.

Among Mr Coombs’ many hobbies were bottle collecting and painting – his picture of Fordingbridge Junior School held pride of place in the school’s reception for many years.

Mr Coombs made models of horses and carts and loved touring in his campervan.

After leaving military service in 1954, Mr Coombs met Pamela and the couple married at Breamore Church in 1959.

They went on to have three children, and now have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Mrs Coombs said: “He was kind and generous – a good man.

“He loved his garden. He would do anything for anybody.

“He had many hobbies but always had time for his family and young people in the town. He will be missed, but he is at peace now.”

The funeral will take place at Salisbury Crematorium at 1pm on Wednesday, June 11.