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Housing Boss Rewarded For Efforts

Touchstone Housing Association chief executive Bill Martin has been presented with an honorary degree by Coventry University for his efforts in improving the city’s urban areas.

Bill Martin with his MABill, who has been chief executive for more than 20 years, received the Honorary Master of Arts degree at Coventry Cathedral.

The university's governors wanted to honour Bill for his contribution to the area over three decades.

In the 1970s, he was heavily involved in the urban renewal process, which led to a series of initiatives to improve housing in Coventry's inner city, Hillfields and Foleshill areas.

He brought home ownership and shared ownership to tenants who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to own their homes, in the 1980s, during which he also began to develop the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, which introduced a high level of supported housing to older people in the city.

The 1980s and 90s saw Bill address the needs of elderly people with limited resources, when he developed the Sundowners concept.

Bill, who is 61, said:

"This is a great honour for me. What I've done down the years - all of it with a huge amount of help, support and encouragement - has, I hope, enabled people in Coventry to live in homes they are proud of, and which are comfortable and secure.

"To have that work recognised by Coventry University in this way is a real bonus."

Apprenticed as an engineer, Bill spent the first part of his working life in industry - including working for blue chip companies such as Kodak and the British Aircraft Corporation.

A career change saw him join Coventry Churches Housing Association as housing and development manager, in 1976.  

He moved into the chief executive role in 1979, continuing CCHAs policy of developing new and imaginative ways of providing low cost homes and high quality housing management services.

His contribution to voluntary housing was recognised in 1988, when he was awarded the OBE.

Bill is a past vice-chairman of Coventry Council of Churches and has been an executive member of Coventry Voluntary Services Council.

He has also been active on the regional executive of the National Federation of Housing Associations, a presenter at Institute of Housing conferences, and involved in policy development groups with senior housing professionals and government officials. 

Bill is married and has two children and five grandchildren. Outside Touchstone he enjoys playing golf.

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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 30 Nov 00
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