Award-winning Rotarian urges others to volunteer

Rotarian Roger Percival has been awarded the Service Above Self honour
Rotarian Roger Percival has been awarded the Service Above Self honour

An award-winning Harrogate Rotarian is urging people in the town to volunteer.

Remarkable Roger Percival is one of just 150 Rotarians worldwide to receive Rotary’s highest honour for individuals, the Service Above Self award, for a lifetime of charitable service.

However, instead of reeling off his achievements, Mr Percival would rather appeal to people of all ages who can spare time to help others, and themselves.

The former President of Harrogate Rotary said: “I want to use the award to encourage people to come together to volunteer, and help others in these difficult financial times.

“I want to develop Rotary further, and let young people know they can volunteer with us. It is about volunteering, not about being with older people in Rotary!”

He added: “Sometimes it can be difficult to motivate volunteers. But I know young people who set out to cycle across America, and when you think about why they would want to do that, you realise some people know they can do something to help others.

“It is important to get people to follow up their volunteering, so if you say you can help once, ask if you can then help again.

“It could be something you do with your friends, such as a group of four or five helping to marshall a race. What I am saying is you don’t need to do a voluntary action with people in the Rotary Club. There is opportunity to help in other ways.”

Immediate Past district governor at the Bingley club Willie Clark nominated Mr Percival.

Mr Clark said: “I have known and worked with Roger over a number of years and am always in awe of his seemingly boundless energy and commitment to Rotary.

“He usually leaves most of us standing at the starting gate while he is half-way down the finishing straight in pursuit of yet another project!

“He really is a human dynamo and I am absolutely delighted for him. It’s so well deserved.”

Mr Percival helped establish the Nidderdale Walk 20 years ago, an event which has since raised more than £500,000 for charity.

Of the walk, Mr Percival said: “It is great to raise the money, but what I wanted to do was organise two or three walks that handicapped people could complete, or shorter walks so everyone could take part.”

He has held various positions since joining the Harrogate club in 1991.

His work for District 1040 has involved trips to Romania, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Nepal, among others.

These varied, but always voluntary, missions have involved the building of schools, or helping communities rebuild following natural disasters.

Mr Percival said: “When we help get these buildings up, it isn’t about the bricks, it is the people who use them, the teachers and pupils, and what the building can do for them.”

To get in touch with Rotary, call 01423 560889.