HE is adored by people across Hampshire for his charming nature and determination to help.

Eric Smith is a familiar face to church goers in Winchester as the short 75-year-old man in a grey suit and cheeky smile.

Famous for his efforts to fundraise for community causes, Eric has been nominated for the Daily Echo’s Community Star campaign. His work with churches in Winchester has led to Eric raising more than £25,000 by collecting 5p donations every Sunday for the past 13 years to support CAFOD, which looks after people in poor communities across the world.

Eric is known for his willingness to help and he is always the first to arrive for a service at his church, St Peter’s in Jewry Street. He is never one to shy away from the spotlight either, as he recently took part in a “Singing for Children in Need”

event at the church to raise £738 and exercised his vocal chords for a solo performance.

Eric also works hard travelling around his city collecting prizes for charities to auction and his most recent success was finding 40 prizes for the Levett Homes last year.

He said: “I just think it’s what you should do as a good person, we are here to help and be compassionate and I love to meet as many people as I can and if there is a way to help someone I will always get up and out to do it. I am constantly amazed at how wonderful people can be.”

Kate Lovatt, who attends church with Eric and nominated him for the award said: “Everyone that meets Eric falls in love with him, he has spent his whole life, every day, helping to raise money for others. He is not in the best of health now as an older man but will always devote his time to others in need.

“It would be so romantic and rewarding for everyone that knows him in Winchester to see him chosen as a Community Star.”

Community Stars

Eric is the last nomination for our campaign, in association with Aster.

First place will receive £500 and £250 to a charity of their choice, second place will be given £250 and £100 to charity, then six highly commended nominations will be given £100 and £50 to charity.

For a round-up of all those that we have featured for the campaign, see tomorrow’s Daily Echo.