Littlehampton Rotarian stunned by top accolade

Geoffrey Watts receives his award from Rotary president, John Mitchell, right
Geoffrey Watts receives his award from Rotary president, John Mitchell, right

A DEDICATED Rotarian from Toddington was left speechless after receiving Rotary International’s highest accolade.

Geoffrey Watts, of Barn Close, has been presented with the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship – an honour which is only bestowed to an elite few worldwide.

It was in recognition of his incredible work in running Littlehampton Rotary Club’s fundraising store in Rustington, which, during its almost-five years of business, managed to drum-up more than £200,000 for charity.

Speaking of his award, the retired grandfather-of-six said: “When the president, John Mitchell, awarded it to me, I was completely gobsmacked, I really was.

“I was very surprised. I knew I had done a lot for the Rotary but I didn’t feel like I had done enough to deserve that – I had only been in the Rotary for seven years.

He added: “You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was quite emotional about it.”

Geoffrey has been with the Rotary for seven years, having served as the Littlehampton branch president, as well as chairman of the shop committee – a position he still holds.

Prior to this, he had been a police officer in the Metropolitan Police in London for 30 years, before fulfilling a lifelong dream to be a bus driver – a job he held for 18 years before retiring.

However, it was his new passion for serving the community of Littlehampton and further afield, as a Rotary member, which he has been focusing upon in recent years.

Describing Geoffrey, Rotary president John Mitchell said he was a ‘guiding force’ behind the running of the successful fundraising store in Rustington, which closed last year.

John said: “He is a man of boundless energy who, with the support of his wife Brenda, is always working to help ensure that the Littlehampton Rotary Club succeeds in every thing we do.

“He has more than earned this award with his dedication to helping the community at home and abroad.”

He added: “Without his energy and total commitment, the shop would not have been such a success.”

The accolade is in recognition for outstanding service.