Rotary Newton Aycliffe featured today is our Vice president, Gary Blenkinsopp.

My name is Gary Blenkinsopp and I became involved with Rotary through a family friend, Geoff Batchelor. I live in School Aycliffe but originally come from Heighington Village. I attended Woodham Comprehensive and went on to do an engineering degree at Coventry University and an MBA at Northumbria University. I started working as an apprentice moulding technician for Flymo back in 1983 and have been with the company all my adult working life. The company is now known as Husqvarna and we manufacture robotic lawnmowers that are exported all over the world from our factory in Aycliffe. I am the technical and tooling manager and have had the opportunity to travel throughout the world on business to countries such as Taiwan, China, Korea, USA, Sweden, etc. I have really enjoyed the travel opportunities experiencing different cultures but sometimes the food has been a bit difficult to manage, especially the snake and chicken feet in China.

What drew me into Rotary was when I was asked to help out just before one Christmas when someone contacted Rotary and asked for assistance. The family had been rehoused by the council as an emergency and had very little furniture and were in urgent need of support. The shout went out and after a few phone calls Rotary turned out and managed to provide what was required. Rotary Newton Aycliffe help lots of people in the local community and this goes on every week of the year.

My biggest challenge in Rotary was finding a Santa Suit big enough to fit. I am 6ft 2 and 17 stone. If anyone had told me I would be touring the streets of Aycliffe and collecting in Tesco dressed as Santa I would never have believed them.