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Search for Power50 people's choice goes viral across the world

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

  • call: Nick Powe

  • REFLECTION: Andy Hobbs

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THE power of the Twitterati and Facebook generation have helped Herald Express readers draw up their list of who they consider to be the most powerful people in the Bay.

But social networking also brought the final results right down to the wire.

The People's Choice 'award' follows hard on the heels of the Herald Express' Power 50 compiled in partnership with Torbay solicitors Kitsons which aimed to put the spotlight on those with the ability and the will to make a difference in Torbay.

We then invited readers to nominate their own Number One as part of their top 10 and also suggest someone not on the list who they believe has or is doing sterling work for the Bay. And the People's Choice went viral across the world.

Kents Cavern's Nick Powe (number 31 in the Power 50) put a call out to the Global Geoparks Network across Europe — having played a key role in securing the status for Torbay. The chairman of the English Riviera Global Geopark appealed for votes on Twitter, Facebook and email.

He said: "I couldn't resist it. It showed the power of social media which has such a huge influence today, particularly in terms of our business and what we do.

"I did hope people would vote without being prompted, but it was nice to see something in which people could get involved. Getting the votes is great."

And the nominations flooded in from places like Italy, Romania, Portugal and Norway as well much closer to home. Nick is also a director of the English Riviera Tourism Company and chairman of trustees at Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust.

His fans, which included a couple of people who apparently share his surname, cited his work preserving the family's caves, that he is a 'considerate local businessman', 'drives Torbay tourism forward with imagination and commitment', is 'a tremendous asset to the English Riviera with perfect vitality, passion and experience' and finally because 'the world needs Cavog' (the Kents Cavern mascot), as well as 'because it's me!"

Meanwhile Carole Nesbitt wrote on the Bikers Make a Difference group Facebook page: "I think that Andy Hobbs, being chairman of BMAD, should be voted for... that way BMAD will get much more publicity for the work it does and hopefully more recognition from the general public."

And though they were not in this year's Power 50 they do deserve recognition having raised £25,225 for local charities through their festival and weekly season of bike nights on Paignton Green this summer, despite the dire weather.

Andy explained that while his name was on the People's Choice list, he considered it a reflection of all the hard work put in by so many people over the past 10 years whose efforts have raised a stunning £300,000 for charity.

He said they estimated that with their sell-out May festival and bike nights through the summer, BMAD bring some £3million into the Bay.

Bike nights are also never cancelled, whatever the weather.

"We have had 20 marshalls there with only 12 bikes, but a couple of them had come all the way from Wigan and loved it."

Many of Nick Powe's supporters also nominated Mel Border, the English Riviera Global Geopark's co-ordinator, citing her hard work, her success as an international ambassador for the Torbay geopark and because she is: "The most intelligent and beautiful woman from Torbay I know". What a recommendation!

Those with honorable mentions who were not on the original Power 50 list include past Mayor Nick Bye; Mike Lister because of his involvement in many architectural projects across the Bay, including the new Palm Court and his role in the Business Improvement District in Torquay and membership of the Torbay Neighbourhood Plan; Torbay Carnival chairman Mike Bailey: "Norrms" McNamara for his campaign on dementia which has included meetings with the Prime Minister; Torbay Bookshop's Matthew Clarke, who it was said should be recognised for his hard work for Paignton; Stephen Twigger for his work at Paignton's Redcliffe Hotel; Adam Millward for outstanding vision and quality in enhancing the reputation of the Bay; Liam McGrath for his work with the voluntary sector; Caroline Taylor, Torbay Council's chief operating officer; Luke Tillen who started the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network charity and Stephen Lofthouse from Bettesworths; Gareth Brocklehurst for sourcing employment opportunities; Nigel Williams, managing director of charity Anode, for helping desperate people.

Bob Brewis of Paignton, was nominated for his 'tireless unpaid work to make the Bay a better place for over 20 years'. "Even though he has motor neurone disease now, he is now showing all healthcare professionals the value of communication by computers just using his eyes with the Eye Gaze system as he has no use of his limbs now," said the nomination.

Brenda Wallis, Princess Theatre front of house manager and her deputy Roma Martin, originally front of house manager at the Festival Theatre, were both commended for their loyalty and the warmth of their welcome.

Dom Hollingsworth from Kitsons said: "It's fantastic to see such a positive response to the People's Choice particularly as it has come from all over the world.

"It's difficult to single any one person out as each has delivered something unique to the Bay – together they have all contributed to making Torbay a special place to live and that in itself is something to celebrate."

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