FORMER Dartmoor prisoner Chris Dredger of Bideford has been named as the South West winner of an award which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.

Chris’ success in the TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards has won £5,000 to develop the work of Storybook Dads, which helps to maintain the vital emotional bond between serving prisoners and their children, by helping offenders to record bedtime stories for their kids on CDs and DVDs.

He first came across Storybook Dads while himself serving a sentence in Dartmoor and has worked on the project for four years, continuing to do so after his release.

The grant money he has won will help to buy new video equipment to roll out the project to other prisons and also to extend it to men serving in the Armed Forces.

The regional winners were chosen by online voters and Chris beat two other contenders from the Plymouth area to become the South West’s choice.

“I’m sure my story in the North Devon Gazette last month helped to boost my votes from local people and I am very grateful to them,” he said.

Chris in now one of 12 regional winners who go on to the national finals and a ceremony at the House of Lords tomorrow (Thursday) when an overall winner will receive a further £10,000 for their project.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win a Digital Heroes award. It means a lot to Storybook Dads to win the £5,000 grant and our fingers are crossed for the national result. I would like to thank all of our supporters who voted for me and friends and family who have backed our project.”

Storybook dads had become an important part of his life and a turning point, said Chris.

“Being able to be a part of something so worthwhile, to see the difference I made by working for Storybook Dads, made me want to come out of prison a better person. They literally changed my life and without them I believe my life would be very different now. I cannot ever imagine myself being in trouble again. I have become a part of something so rewarding and worthwhile and now have so much to lose. You cannot change the past, but I can and will make a good and honest future for myself.”