This month’s Spotlight falls on Keith Stirling, one of Wornington Green’s longest-standing residents and active charity campaigner.
Having lived in the area since 1963, Keith feels very much part of the fabric of the local community and feels very driven to get involved and serve the community he is so proud of. Having seen many changes during his time in Wornington Green, he feels it is more important than ever to play an active part in the local community.
“There has always been a tight community around here, although things have inevitably changed over the years”, he says. “In years gone by there were more focal points for the community – the local pub, the corner shop and the market – places where everyone would see one another. Although there is still a strong community spirit here, the focal points just aren’t the same.”
Because of this, older residents are particularly vulnerable, says Keith. “It used to be easier to keep an eye on one another and now it is harder to do so. It’s especially important that we keep older residents involved in the community, so that they don’t feel isolated.”
As a board member of KHT’s Trust Fund Committee, Keith was particularly keen to address the needs of older residents. This has resulted in the appointment of a dedicated Age Concern support worker, Bernice, to provide help and support for older residents.
Keith’s long list of commitments also includes a role on the Youth Club committee, which also provides valuable facilities and support for residents at the other end of the age spectrum. Keith is particularly keen to support initiatives that get young people involved in activities that keep them active and engaged. “We are lucky in that the Youth Centre has a lot of facilities, but we also need to get kids out of their comfort zones and take them on trips out of the area, and sometimes out of London. These are the things that trigger the imagination and can ignite life-long careers or passions.”
To that end, Keith will be taking a group of six local young people on a leg of his annual John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle ride next year. The young cyclists will be chosen by the Venture Centre and will join Keith during the Inverness to Perth leg, which has dedicated cycle paths for the duration. The four day trip will provide a unique experience for a group of 14-16 years olds who will be able to test themselves to the limits in a safe and controlled environment.
Next year’s ride from John O’Groats to Land’s End will be Keith’s 16th and continues his record of the person to have cycled the route the most times. Despite vowing never to do it again after his first trip in 1986, Keith has continued to put himself through it, raising around £750,000 over the years. This unusual hobby has brought him into contact with celebrities such as TV host and veteran marathon runner, Jimmy Saville and Lord Rayner, former chairman of Marks & Spencer. And after 25 years of vowing “never again”, Keith has recently treated himself to a brand new bike so doesn’t look likely to be hanging up his jersey any time soon.