TOCKWITH Show secretary Les Wake is on the shortlist to be named as a champion of the countryside – and is up against some big-name competition.

Les, who lives in Whixley, is one of only four names on the shortlist for the Countryside Alliance’s award of Rural Hero. But his competition includes Janet Street-Porter and hunt-supporting chef Clarissa Dickson Wright.

As well as being Tockwith Show’s youngest ever secretary – he is 40 and is now in his third year in the post – Les was also recently voted in as chairman of the Federation Of Yorkshire Shows. He is also determined to get more young people involved in the countryside and agricultural shows.

Les said he was very pleased to make it to the shortlist.

He said: “I got the invitation on Saturday morning. I’m very happy, I knew I had been nominated, but I was very surprised I had got through to the final, especially when I saw who I was up against.”

Les, who is a manager with Network Rail, said he became involved with Tockwith Show after suffering a serious illness, and decided that he wanted to give something back to the community.

Since his tenure as secretary began, he has introduced a youth committee for Tockwith Show, which began with only two members, but now has 15.

He has also set up a Green Menu for this year’s show – which coincides with Yorkshire Day on August 1 – with everything on the menu in the members’ tent coming from Yorkshire.

In addition, all the catering wagons around the showground will be from the county.

His nomination for Rural Hero says: “This popular young secretary of the Tockwith Show has recently become chairman of the Federation Of Yorkshire Shows.

“Les is a tireless champion of farming, starting initiatives such as the Green Menu and creating a youth committee in order to retain farming’s important heritage. The nominations for Les were warm and extremely admiring of his energy and commitment – his fans feel he is a true Rural Hero.”

But Les faces some stiff competition.

Janet Street-Porter has been nominated for her work promoting British veal on television’s The F-Word while Clarissa Dickson-Wright is nominated for her consistent support of hunting and the rural way of life.

In addition Ian Pigott, from Hertfordshire, is in the running after dreaming up Open Farm Sunday, a national event that “opens the countryside up to a new audience and promotes farming in an accessible way”.

The Rural Hero will be announced at the annual Countryside Alliance Awards at a House of Lords reception on March 18.