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B4RN’s First Shareholder, Walter Willcox, Retires

August 6th, 2021
Author: Chris Conder
Posted In: Latest news

Congratulations on your retirement Walter, from all at #teamB4RN. Well done on all your achievements and thank you for your help and inspiration over the years!

For those who don’t know, Walter Willcox and his team and volunteers have built their own network in the Surrey Hills and Walter was our very first B4RN shareholder.

We hope you like this little video we have made for you:

Message from our COO Tom Rigg:

“I would like to recognise Walter for his passion and commitment to delivering Fibre To The Premise broadband to the most remote parts of the country. He has achieved a great deal over the years, significantly supporting B4RN both in the early years and throughout, and more recently bringing his vision to light in his home area with B4SH. Very many thanks to you Walter, on behalf of myself and the communities, we salute you!”


Excerpt from the B4RN book which is currently being written by a talented volunteer:


Stalwart supporters

I mentioned a supporter in an earlier chapter who really needs a bit more coverage – his dedication to the project is all the more remarkable because he isn’t even remotely local. Walter Willcox lives in Surrey – so it would need to be a very long spur from the core route to connect him and his neighbours. But, Walter is an activist. Several years ago he had discovered the project on social media and found a bit of a soul mate. B4RN and B4SH both share the same ‘can do’ philosophy and are both justifiably indignant that the mere five percent of the population who are not entitled to broadband just happen to occupy 60% of the British countryside, albeit sparsely. And who could not be indignant when it is put like that?

When Barry and the early visionaries began to get the B4RN concept rolling, Walter was the first person to put his faith in it and buy shares. With a background in telecommunications Walter was completely conversant with the theory and had supreme confidence that it could be done. He wasn’t quite sure how the community thing would work and how we’d get everyone on board – but then, (with all due respect) he is a southerner and hadn’t come across true northern fibre before.

Although not a spring chicken, Walter thought nothing of hammering up the motorway to attend early meetings and discussion groups. His enthusiasm was infectious and his knowledge invaluable. As the project developed ‘Walter from Surrey’ became a well-known figure and he very quickly got to know all our twisty lanes and gated shortcuts. Leaving his wife Jo at home in Surrey and neglecting his duties as a grandfather, Walter would arrive with his car stuffed to the gunwales with useful equipment and pitch camp for a week or so. His boundless energy put younger folk to shame. Not content to simply relax after the horrors of M6 he would begin his networking straight away to discover which B4RN area most needed his help the following day.

So, here we are, nearly 10 years into the project and Walter is still making visits (less so since Covid but a damper on things). After a good, hearty breakfast he’s off into the fells with his wellies and foul weather gear at the ready. Happy to dig, problem solve, trouble shoot, deliver kit, in fact anything that needs doing – at full speed until the light begins to fade in the evening. Then back to the B&B for supper, a glass of wine and on with the evening tasks of letter writing, communicating and devising solutions for the problems the day has delivered.

Gavin And Belinda Second Nature Smallban

Stories from out in the field from our very happy customers

One residential customer in Over Kellet used to know whether it was worth firing up her computer by looking out of her front window to see what the weather was doing with her telephone line.

Customer Testimonial

We juggle two jobs from home, and it’s just been a game-changer. Just sign up! It’s the best internet service I’ve ever received, and I’ve moved a thousand times!
Georgiana, Dentdale
It has allowed us to improve our farm business through the implementation of Wi-Fi heat detection ankle bands on our herd, and thus improving our business productivity.
Heather Whalley, Farmer
OMG it is amazing! I don’t want to go back to London, which was faster than here, but not now! Just to say a BIG THANK YOU to all you guys, what a great thing you are doing. I’m shocked not everyone is signing up!
Customer in Norfolk
After lambing 1300 ewes a good film is what I want to watch and because we have B4RN that is no problem. Just enables me and my family to get on.
Farmer (Anonymous)
It’s like going from a Ford Anglia to a jet engine!
Jackie Frankland, Rathmell

We’re award winners!

Connected Britain Bpoty All Caps Edit Best Rural Isp Winner 2022 Inca Winner 2022 Medium Connected Britain Community Improvement Award Winner 2022 Inca Ispa 1663059912