Love Thy Neighbour Award winner is often first on the scene, but always the last to ask for praise.

VERY often the first person on the scene when someone needs help, David Francis is always the last person to ask for praise.

The Bideford father-of-two is used to putting others before himself and this week the community-based First Responder volunteer has been awarded the first ever North Devon Gazette and J Cowlings ‘Love Thy Neighbour Award’.

David, 43, joined the South Western Ambulance Service Trust scheme in 2008 and spends three-to-four evenings a week on call, ready to offer basic life support until the ambulance arrives.

He was nominated for the award by his father Gordon Francis, not just for the work he does with the First Responders, but for a lifetime of selfless dedication to community causes.

David’s commitment to helping others began as a youngster, when he collected and distributed talking books to elderly people on his way home from school.

He joined the St John Cadets and, after leaving school, spent several nights a week manning the telephones for the Samaritans, and later, for mental health charity Wand. A keen guitarist, David organised musical concerts to raise money for Wand and has also taken part in several charity Star Treks across Exmoor.

His father Gordon said: “He has done all these things all at his own expense, not receiving one penny of expenses, and while holding down a full-time day job and raising a family.”

On being presented with a star award by Jenny Cowling, managing director of award sponsor J Cowlings, David, who works as an electronic engineer at J+S Ltd in Barnstaple, said he enjoyed the satisfaction voluntary work gave him.

Wife Sharon said: “We’re all really proud of David. He puts in a lot of effort and gets called out at all hours of the night, as well as attending regular training courses to keep up to date with the latest equipment.”

As well as the award, David was presented with a meal voucher for the Instow Arms.

Jenny Cowling said: “Reading the nomination for David was very moving; we all lead extremely busy lives with work and family but David manages to go the extra step. He is an outstanding example to us all.”

Gazette editor Andy Keeble echoed the sentiments: “David is a shining example of someone who somehow finds the time to help their community tick. His story should be an inspiration to us all.”

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If you would like to nominate a neighbour, friend, family member or colleague for the fantastic work that they do, email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk telling us why your nominee deserves to be recognised. Alternatively you can drop your nomination into the Gazette office in Old Station Road, Barnstaple. Please include your name and address and daytime contact telephone number.

The next winner will be chosen in the week commencing Monday, August 6.