Sidmouth salutes RBL chairman Dave is its Citizen of the Year

Sidmouth Citizen of the Year Dave O'Connor with his daughter Pauline Denning. Ref shs 17-16SH 2510.

Sidmouth Citizen of the Year Dave O'Connor with his daughter Pauline Denning. Ref shs 17-16SH 2510. Picture: Simon Horn. - Credit: Archant

A ‘true son of Sidmouth’ and chairman of the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) has been named Citizen of the Year.

Dave O’ Connor, 74, who still lives in the Sid Park Road house he was born in, said he was ‘chuffed to bits’ to receive the accolade.

Dave served his country for more than three decades, but it was his 33 years – and counting - supporting his home town that saw him recognised.

“I’m so pleased - thank-you from the bottom of my heart,” said Dave at a special lunch at the Hotel Riviera on Wednesday.

He was accompanied by his ‘extremely proud’ daughter Pauline Denning.

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Dave was born, raised and educated in Sidmouth and, at the age of 11, joined the Army Cadet Force. He learnt his trade as a bricklayer with local builder Parsons Brothers. Aged 18, Dave joined the Territorial Army. Over the next 33 years, he served in Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Holland, Denmark, Germany and Northern Ireland. Dave also served in two British Army regiments. He joined the RBL in 1982 and has served the Sidmouth branch as its standard bearer, vice chairman and, now, its chairman.

Among notable events, Dave referred to a plaque, in honour of Private David Hamsom, who was killed in the Korean War in 1951, aged 20, being put up in the parish church. The erection of a tribute in Blackmore Gardens, thanking the servicemen and women who trained in Sidmouth and the residents who assisted to accommodate them, was also a highlight. Dave has also played an integral role in the the creation of a rose garden of remembrance in Connaught Gardens this year.

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“The branch is always active in the town to assist not only our branch members, but also any ex-service men or women. We are so pleased with the support that the residents of our town have given us,” said Dave.

The Citizen of the Year competition is organised by the Rotary Club of Sidmouth in partnership with the Herald.

Rotarian Graeme Bullock said: “Dave has served his country faithfully and he has also served the town and people of Sidmouth well.”

Town council chairman Jeff Turner praised Dave and said he was a fine example of the people in Sidmouth who ‘go beyond the call of duty’. “It never ceases to amaze me how many people there are in this town who do good things,” he added.

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