Winkleigh man crowned UK Smile Maker

Specsavers UK Smile Maker Paul Baker

Specsavers UK Smile Maker Paul Baker - Credit: Only Marketing

A father-of-one from Winkleigh, Devon, who created a Covid-safe Santa’s grotto for local children to enjoy last Christmas, has won a nationwide competition. 

Paul Baker, 42, was nominated for the Specsavers UK Smile Maker award by long-term friend Tim Bain, for all the work he has done in the local community to help bring smiles to people’s faces during the pandemic. 

Six years ago, Paul and his partner Claire joined a team of volunteers in Winkleigh in staging events and raising money for the area, as well as for local charity Chemo Hero, which is very close to their hearts. 

However, the impact of Covid-19 meant Paul could no longer continue his usual work as an entertainer, so he turned his efforts to raising smiles virtually by hosting a series of events and highlighting local businesses – including creating the special Christmas grotto. 

“I am absolutely thrilled I have won. It means so much to me that people view me as a Smile Maker - my main goal has always been to make my local community smile so to be rewarded like this is fantastic,” said Paul. 

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As well as receiving the Smile Maker award, Paul won a one-to-one video call with celebrity father and son TV and radio stars and ITV Sunday Best presenters Martin and Roman Kemp, as well as £1,000 and a glasses voucher to spend in his local Specsavers store. 

Paul added: “Huge thanks to Martin and Roman who were so kind about the work I have done in my community and loved hearing about last year’s Grotto. They really took the time to get to know myself, my partner Claire, and our daughter Hope. They put smiles on all of our faces! Talking to them was an honour and I will remember this for a long time to come.’ 

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“This year has been tough but people like Paul, who has been so generous in his commitment to the Devon community, make such a positive difference,” says musician and actor, Martin Kemp. 

“We were thrilled to be able to virtually meet Paul, learn about his incredibly inspirational work and say thank you for his service to making people smile.” 

“Paul is a very deserving winner and my dad and I loved chatting with him about their incredible work in Winkleigh. Hopefully we made him smile in return!” 

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