Chris honoured for getting Barnstaple moving

Chris Willis of Go North Devon Ltd is awarded an outstanding lifetime contribution award by Devon Co

Chris Willis of Go North Devon Ltd is awarded an outstanding lifetime contribution award by Devon County Council chairman Bernard Hughes. - Credit: Archant

Outstanding lifetime contribution award for Shopmobility stalwart.

A MAN who has devoted his time to helping others get around has been honoured with an outstanding lifetime contribution award.

Chris Willis of Go North Devon Ltd was one of a handful of community transport volunteers given special recognition at an award ceremony held at County Hall in Exeter to mark the culmination of National Volunteers’ Week.

Mr Willis first volunteered in 1997 when the group was about to launch its Shopmobility service, and has served as chairman since 2003.

Sharon Lynch, manager of Go North Devon Ltd, said Mr Willis had been instrumental in helping to improve access at pavements, drop kerbs and crossings around Barnstaple town centre.

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She said: “It was still common at this time to have a drop kerb one side of the road but not the other.

“Chris worked with other volunteers to improve access and Barnstaple was hailed at the time as one of the most accessible town centres in Devon – nowadays it is taken for granted.”

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Described as the ‘embodiment of service’ Mr Willis has led the organisation as an ‘inspirational chairman’ who shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 80.

Other local people honoured at the ceremony organised by Devon County Council included Robert Adams of the Holsworthy Rural Community Transport Association.

Mr Adams, who drives four days a week and clocked up 6,000 miles last year alone, was named the Community Transport Volunteer of the Year. He was described as a ‘godsend with his own fan base’.

Martin Prentice, also of Holsworthy Rural CTA, and Christine Chadwick of North Devon Cars were both presented with volunteer awards.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “It never ceases to amaze me just how many people involved in community transport go that extra mile.

“This award ceremony always highlights some very special people and we always hear incredible stories of the difference they are making.”

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