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 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.