Here at Rotherham United we are incredibly privileged to be considered cornerstone of the local community which regularly presents us with the opportunity to work and interact with a whole host of people to make a positive impact on the local region.
Whilst the work done by the first team is undoubtedly important, and paramount to increasing the profile of the services we are able to offer, so much of what we do would be impossible without the assistance of our committed community volunteers, who regularly give up their time to benefit others.
Stuart Wildridge is a shining example of a volunteer who has selflessly committed his own time to our community work and we are sure that many of you will recognise his beaming smile, from the various projects that he has worked on over the years.
Stuart is a regular helper for the Trust on home matchdays
Since getting involved with the Rotherham United Community Sports Trust through the EFL charity partner, Mind, Stuart has always been on hand to help out.
He has become our resident mini-bus driver, transporting a number of teams and students to venues across the region, a service which is key to the successful delivery of so many of our brilliant community schemes.
His desire to help out where possible has become even greater since the COVID-19 outbreak and he is now heavily involved in delivering care packages and other donated food to a number of worthy causes around the town.
In addition to this, alongside his own shopping, Stuart has been collecting items for participants in the RUCST’s programmes who are deemed vulnerable and therefore cannot go out themselves.
Always keen to put smiles on faces, Stuart gets into the Christmas spirit at AESSEAL New York Stadium
Speaking to www.themillers.co.uk after another busy day of volunteering, Stuart, who has recently turned 70, explained how and why he first got involved with undertaking all these various tasks for the community.
“I’ve done everything from dropping off shopping to painting fence posts!
“I first got involved with the Trust through Mind, who I found out had a walking group.
“I went and joined that and carried on going, then they found out that I could drive a minibus so then I ended up driving the walking group!
“It snowballed from there really. I started driving some of the kids’ teams around - the Academy players, both boys and girls - among various other groups.
“I just do it to make folks happy and hopefully they like me for it.
“I have this issue whereby I don’t think folks think much of me, so I do my best to make them happy.”
Knowing Stuart as we do, we have absolutely no doubts that he is a popular figure both around the club and in the local community, and he is not only an amazing, selfless volunteer, but also an inspiring character – proven by his ongoing training for the Rotherham 10k at 70-years-young!
“I’m still helping people out where I can through the COVID-19 outbreak,” he explained.
“The variety of the jobs I can help with means that no two days are ever the same.
“Alongside my voluntary work I’ve been keeping busy by training for what would have been the Rotherham 10k. I’ve been running around the park and I’m a part of the MCVC being ex-territorial army.
Stuart is pictured with members of the Rotherham MCVC
“The first one I did fairly quickly and then the subsequent ones have been a bit quicker still. I think I did 6.8 miles in 1 hour and 24 minutes and I’ve just turned 70.”
Stuart concluded by citing the main reason for his continued commitment to the Community Sports Trust and his ongoing charity work is the satisfaction he gets from being able to provide help to those around him.
“It always feels worthwhile to see the smiles on people’s faces, particularly at times like this when it is that bit harder for everyone.”
Stuart takes a well-deserved break from duty to enjoy an ice-cream on one of his many trips with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust
Head of Community Jamie Noble, who has now known Stuart for many years, heaped praise on a volunteer who he insists always goes above and beyond the call of duty to benefit the Trust’s participants and indeed, the people of Rotherham.
“I do not have enough good words to say about Stuart Wildridge, his contribution to our football club and the town has been absolutely phenomenal over the years,” he told www.themillers.co.uk.
“If a job needs doing Stuart is always the first to put his name forward, in a lot of cases, even when it can’t be convenient for him.
“He is one of those people who has a real desire to help others and he certainly does that. He is an inspirational character and we could all learn something from his amazingly selfless nature.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to know Stuart for all of these years and even more so to work with him. He embodies everything good about our football club and he is a shining example for Rotherham United in our community.
“He recently celebrated his 70th birthday and while we couldn’t be there physically to join him, we did all jump on a video call as a group of staff to wish him all the best.
“Stuart is someone I am privileged to say is associated with Rotherham United, but more importantly, someone I am proud to call a friend.”