The Nidderdale Voices column with Roger Gill

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There cannot be anyone in Summerbridge who does not know Roger Gill – whether it is with Max Pullen Tennis Club or Summerbridge Methodist Church.

He was actually born in Prospect House, next door to the house where he now lives. His school days were spent at Grosvenor House followed by weekly boarding at Bootham in York. Even though he was the son of the mill owner he still had to do his apprenticeship in the engineering shop. With National Service Roger was sent to Northern Ireland, where he met his wife Helen. During his time there he became interested in their production of man-made fibres. He realised for Thomas Gill and Sons to survive they would have to change. His ideas were followed through and Glymil Mill was opened in Harrogate. Time moved on and in 1968 the two mills merged with Jute Industries but sadly closed in 1981. Roger had to make a new career and he did this in insurance. It is, however, for his work with young people in the Methodist Church that he will be most well known. Even before he trained as a Lay Worker and took over the responsibility of Darley Methodist Congregation, Roger and Helen had been running Summerbridge Youth Club and Sunshine Corner.

Describe a typical day.

I always start the day with a quiet time of Bible reading and prayer. After this I check my computer and perhaps help Helen with some household task before I go out and do some pastoral visiting on behalf of the church. On fine days I love to garden.

What would be your perfect day out?

It would, of course, have to be with Helen. Even though we live in the country I still enjoy the scenery of the Lake District. Walking is one of my passions and there are some beautiful walks in the Langdale Valley.

What is your favourite part of the Dale?

As I love bird watching it has to be Gouthwaite. This reservoir is rich in bird life and it is so near to my home.

Which is your favourite Nidderdale business?

I love a visit to Todd’s. They have absolutely everything that I could possibly want for my efforts at DIY. Now that the Post Office is in there I have an excuse to go in more frequently.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the Dale?

The closure of the mills has obviously affected my own family and changed the pattern of work offered by the area. House prices have risen enormously making it almost impossible for young couples to buy.

What makes Nidderdale so special and what would you say to recommend it?

The Dale is made up of many separate villages and each one of them has its own identity. Summerbridge celebrates May Day, Birstwith has its own little horticultural show and Middlesmoor has its Bell Festival. The fact that I have always had my home in Summerbridge shows without a doubt that I am totally committed to the Dale.

If there is one thing that you could change what would it be?

I would like to see the building of more affordable houses so that young people who have grown up in the Dale can come back to settle here.