My Sidmouth: Dave O’Connor shares what he loves about the town

PUBLISHED: 09:03 28 May 2017

Sidmouth Citizen of the Year Dave O'Connor with his daughter Pauline Denning. Ref shs 17-16SH 2512. Picture: Simon Horn.

Sidmouth Citizen of the Year Dave O'Connor with his daughter Pauline Denning. Ref shs 17-16SH 2512. Picture: Simon Horn.

Archant

The streets of Sidmouth have been familiar to Dave O’Connor. He’s walked them as a toddler, teenager and adult for the past 75 years.

Dave O'Connor had a hand from his family and the Sidmouth Cadets to plant bulbs at the eagle tribute. Ref shs 3257-45-15AW. Picture: Alex WaltonDave O'Connor had a hand from his family and the Sidmouth Cadets to plant bulbs at the eagle tribute. Ref shs 3257-45-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

His mother Jessie Reynolds was born in Mill Street and brought up by Meldon ‘Dappie’ Pinn and his wife Maude.

Dappie was a blind fish seller and was seen out with his wares despite losing his sight as a teenager.

Jessie married Michael and they went on to have seven children. The family moved firstly into 28 Sid Park Road and Dave was born at around 8.30am on November 15, 1941.

The following year, they moved up the road to number 40, where Dave lived for 72 years before recently moving to Metcombe.

Dave O'Connor remembers Dappie who was a blind fish seller in Sidmouth.Dave O'Connor remembers Dappie who was a blind fish seller in Sidmouth.

Dave said: “I love everything about Sidmouth.”

Growing up, he attended All Saints Church school and moved up to St Nicholas School in Vicarage Road.

His ‘cheeky’ nature often got him into trouble at school, but it was at Woolbrook Secondary School where things started to change when he met Mike Sharp, captain of the army cadet force.

Dave said: “I joined the cadet force and stayed with them until 1959 when I was too old. I saw in the Sidmouth Herald the 4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment were looking and I went down there.”

Dave O'Connor's family, Maude outside their home in Sid Park Road.Dave O'Connor's family, Maude outside their home in Sid Park Road.

Dave went on to join the Territorial Army for 33 years, leaving in 1992.

In 1991, he joined the Sidmouth branch of the Royal British Legion and has been its chairman for the last eight years.

On what he enjoys about being a member, Dave said: “It is comradeship and being able to help people.”

Through the legion, the group has been able to secure a memorial in memory of fallen Sidmouth soldier Dave Hanson, who was killed in Korea, erect an eagle tribute in Blackmore Gardens and worked to create a memorial area in Connaught Gardens.

Dave’s work in the community earned him the prestigious title of Citizen of the Year in 2016.

Dave said: “I couldn’t believe it - I had this phone call from the Rotary club and he asked me if I would like to accept the award of Citizen of the Year. I was doing my job and helping people.”

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