Former councillor dies at 83
TONY Speller, former Exeter city councillor and North Devon MP who founded the Copyshops chain, has died aged 83.
Mr Speller won North Devon for the Tories in 1987 from Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe.
He previously served on Exeter City Council and as public works chairman and education chairman. He presided over the construction of the twin Exe Bridges, the incinerator and the first multi-storey car park at King William Street and – he was proud to say – the Countess Wear sewage works.
Earlier he held a National Service commission in the Devonshire Regiment and was badly injured during relief operations in the Lynmouth floods of 1952.
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A proud Exonian, Mr Speller went to Exeter School and the University of Exeter before carrying out his national service in the Devonshire Regiment.
He was later a colonial civil servant in Nigeria before founding the Copyshops chain in the West Country with friend Sandy Fleming.
He served three terms as MP for North Devon under Margaret Thatcher, and then returned to grassroots politics in his home village as a member of Newton St Cyres Parish Council.
His new role fired the former Parliamentarian's enthusiasm for improving the lot of his community.
He said at the time: "All I'm doing now at an ancient age is having a look around and seeing whether I can give any help ex officio. It's all good fun and I will carry on doing that while my health is good.
"Irrespective of politics, most of us are interested in the same things.
"Youngsters are too busy earning a living, so it's incumbent on those of us who are retired to come and see what can we do to help our area."
Mr Speller leaves a wife, Maureen, and five children.
His funeral will be held at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on Monday, March 4, at 10am.