FOR 13 years, Derek Coren served the people of Yeo Ward - the parishes of Cheriton Bishop, Copplestone, Crediton Hamlets (Hookway Ward near Crediton and Yeoford Ward) and Hittisleigh as a member of Mid Devon District Council, but did not stand again this year. 

A third generation farmer from near Yeoford, he and his family farm Shortacombe, so field work was fitted around council work which meant a number of evening meetings.  

Married in 1959, Derek and Evelyn have a son and a daughter, both married and five grandchildren. 

At his last meeting of Crediton Hamlets Parish Council Derek was presented with a meal voucher and a card signed by all the members present. 

Saying he would miss the council and its members, he thanked them for showing their appreciation of his work.

His “patch” was more than 50 miles across, from the edge of Whiddon Down almost to Newton St Cyres.

Crediton Hamlets, “his parish” takes in Salmonhutch, Woodland Head, Hollacombe, Posbury and Uton among the smaller places as well as Yeoford.  He would go to local council meetings in four of the parishes and be involved in various village activities.  

At Hittisleigh markets Derek could usually be found in the kitchen or other times such as providing a tractor and trailer for village clean ups.

He was much involved in the change of use of the Good Knight Inn at Cheriton Bishop to the Devon YFC Rural Hub, also when the name of the Mare and Foal at Yeoford was changed to The Duck.

Derek added that he was glad to see repairs being made to Cheriton Bishop Village Hall which had been badly damaged by fire last year.  He was quite involved in planning for that.

“I was so proud to be introduced to the then Prince Charles when he came and opened the YFC Rural Hub,” said Derek.

Derek was involved in getting the bus shelter built outside The Hub and, more recently, spent several days on the plans for Homeleigh Garden Centre’s extension at Crediton. 

“One of the highlights was fighting our corner with Hookway, Venny Tedburn, part of Uton and Dunscombe not to go from being part of Hamlets to Newton St Cyres.  A lot of people wrote in or sent emails against the plan, supporting Hamlets Parish Council.

“We all wrote to the Boundary Commission on appeal that we did not want to lose those areas from Hamlets.

“I have always attended the Remembrance services at the War Memorial at Cheriton Bishop because, apart from Crediton, there is not another War Memorial in Hamlets,” he said. 

Copplestone is in Yeo Ward and in the early days he worked with Ken Warren to get the football field created and the fencing. 

Derek was also among those who worked to prevent Lords Meadow Leisure Centre’s main hall being turned into a multi gym.  

“I had a good working relationship with Bob Wright at Crediton.  When the district council wanted to put up car parking charges, Bob said why not try something different, say five hours for £1.

“The full council voted it through.  At the St Saviour’s Way car park for instance, income doubled even though we had reduced the price.  Bob and I went round putting up the signs,” added Derek.

At the district council he sat on various committees including Environment all the time he was there, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, Homes Committee and had sat on working groups, HATOC (Highway and Traffic Orders Committee) and been a member of the Dartmoor National Park Forum “for ages”.

“I have met lots of interesting people and made friends plus a few enemies along the way.  It was Angela Browning when she was our MP who persuaded me to stand for Mid Devon and I did my best to represent the people.  It is a shame that during Covid we lost contact with so many people,” said Derek.

He took over the seat after the death of Dave Pullen who had served the area so well.  The other member for Yeo was Phil Bourne.  He and Derek worked well together for the Ward. 

Derek is rather proud that when he won the seat it was one of the biggest swings from Lib Dem (David Pullen) to Conservative (Derek) in the country.

“My Christian faith has made me a very active member of West Down Chapel at Cheriton Bishop.  I helped to run services there.  My faith has been the rock of my life,” said Derek.