Tribute to Jim Shapter

27-9-2007: EXMOUTH mourned this week as the town comes to terms with the loss of the energy and drive of a one of the community s most inspirational figures.

27-9-2007: EXMOUTH mourned this week as the town comes to terms with the loss of the energy and drive of a one of the community's most inspirational figures.

Jim Shapter, a founding member of the modern town council, and driving force behind so many social groups and outdoor courses for youngsters, died last weekend, aged 80, after battling illness.

A true outdoors man, the fisherman's son proved an inspiration to hundreds of youngsters through his teaching career, both in and out of school.

A familiar figure in Exmouth, where he was born and raised, his shock of white hair could not be missed as he cycled around town, or made his point known at council and residents' meetings.

Daughter Tracey Brookes would welcome her dad to her Starcross home after he rowed across the estuary for his regular visits.

Tracey, 46, said: "I'll miss his huge sense of humour and wit, his energy and his love of life. He was the most supportive person you could ever ask for, always there for people. He had a way of getting things done, and he wanted to give people who were downtrodden a voice.

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"He loved the outdoors, and relished any challenge or new experience. He was driven to challenge himself, and then teach people so they could share the experience."

Harbourmaster Keith Graham, 64, knew Jim since he arrived at his school as a trainee teacher, and said: "Jim loved Exmouth, and he will be sadly missed. I would see him and his wife and brother-in-law for a pint at The Bicton in the old days. He was a real character and a very nice man."

Seventeen years' teaching at Tiverton in PE, science and geography came after spells at Northbrook School, Exeter, and a first job in Sittingbourne after completing training in the 1950s.

Outdoor education was a real speciality and Jim ran the Exmouth Sailing School, and taught long into retirement, often on his beloved estuary.

The experienced sailor taught Royal Yacht Association courses and navigation lessons, and was a canoeing instructor.

An assessor for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards, Jim coached pupils through the annual Ten Tors challenge - and his love of scaling mountains on regular walking trips summed up his attitude to life.

Passionate about his home town, many will miss the cry of 'Shapter here!' when Jim would phone to discuss Exmouth issues.

A founder member of Exmouth Town Council, Jim won a seat as an independent councillor in 1996. The committed campaigner also was a founding member of the Exmouth Residents' Association and chairman of the Exmouth Special Needs Action Group.

Friend and former council colleague Eileen Wragg said: "Jim became an Exmouth town councillor, after standing as an independent, to the joy of many local people, whilst others, mainly developers, found him to be an obstacle, constantly challenging their proposals.

"He had been involved in several public inquiries, but was never afraid to ask the unspoken questions which others only thought about.

"He was one of life's, and Exmouth's, real characters, irreplaceable, and will be missed by many people throughout Devon and beyond."

Jim, of Upper Church Street, leaves wife Patricia, son Peter, daughter Tracey Brookes and her partner Peter Leech, and three grandchildren.