Barnstaple Town Council has been paying tribute to three dedicated public servants who have all passed away during the last month.

Bill Forward, pictured here with his wife, served Barnstaple as mayor from 1987 to 1988. Picture: BTCBill Forward, pictured here with his wife, served Barnstaple as mayor from 1987 to 1988. Picture: BTC

Janet Preston, Bill Forward and Tony Clark all served as town and district councillors during the past 30 years and left their marks on the community.

Mrs Preston, from Pilton, died on June 10 at North Devon District Hospital, aged 73, leaving behind her husband John, daughter Becky and two grandchildren.

As well as a councillor of many years, she served as deputy mayor alongside the mayor, Cllr Ian Scott, from 1993-94 plus as mayoress to John in 2000-2001.

Mr Scott warmly remembers Janet as his deputy mayor and highlighted her persistent nature, her ability to make sure things got done – he said: “She had a permanency about her and showed great commitment.”

Tony Clark worked tirelessly for his community in Barnstaple as a town and district councillor.Tony Clark worked tirelessly for his community in Barnstaple as a town and district councillor.

Councillors Val Elkins and Val Monk fondly recall her as a hard worker, in particular, her fundraising efforts for the Liberal Democrats and the Crime Prevention Panel.

Cllr Ricky Knight recalled her help when he joined the council in 2003. He said: “I appreciated her skills as no-nonsense chairperson, scrupulously fair, inclusive, concise and, perhaps best of all, a woman of few irrelevant words and an excellent time-keeper.

“She and her husband were an indomitable duo, Barnstaple people to the core, tirelessly committed to their roles and determined to represent their ward constituents to the benefit of our town.”

Bill Forward died aged 95 on March 18 in London, where he lived near his daughter Loveday, who he leaves together with his sons Stephen and John.

He served as mayor from 1987-88 and again in 1997, and was also head of Pilton Bluecoat School as well as instrumental in setting up Barnstaple Heritage Centre.

Cllr Monk recalled him as ‘a lovely, sweet man but he wouldn’t take any nonsense!’ Mr Scott keenly recalls introducing him to the council. He met him when he was at Piton Bluecoat, and said he was held in the highest regard.

He said: “It’s not possible to over-emphasise the quality of the man and his commitment to public service. He loved the school, he really knew and understood the children and created a great atmosphere. My two sons attended the school at the time he was head, they have both gone on to become lawyers.”

Tony Clark, who passed away aged 76, was well known in the area for having been involved in setting up Forches and Whiddon Valley Community Centre. He leaves his wife Kim and two daughters.

Always active in the community, even after he retired, he became a mini bus driver for Pathfield school.

Cllr Monk said: “We were a fantastic team, he was always ready to do his bit. He was a really nice man.”