Recollections from members of the Rotary Club of Hertford Shires
Members of the Rotary Club of Hertford Shires were asked to recount some of their thoughts and memories about Bill. Their recollections are shared below:
Sense of Humour
For some years Bill lead the club’s annual essay competition when he related well to both the parents and children.
Knowing his sense of humour and off the cuff comments other members would listen to his presentations with their fingers crossed.
Bill fulfilled the role of Father Christmas on many cold evenings when the sleigh would visit local towns. He was excellent with the children but also enjoyed amusing banter with the parents. On one occasion he said he only wore red because he supported Arsenal.
He also said he would rather have the young mums sitting on his knee than the kids.
One member described Bill as such a colourful character and has a picture of him meeting Martin Woods – Her late Majesty’s Head Gardener at Sandringham House. I remember Martin saying Bill reminded him of his elderly uncle, full of mischief.
Charm and Humour
The club’s first president said of Bill – A founding Member of our Club, ever present with his ‘City’ charm and humour. Who could forget a Bill Wright lunch…!!
Another recollection of Bill was that he would volunteer to do the most important job at any event which was the car parking. As in that way he got to chat to everyone who came. However he would put a spin on it. The one I remember was the Dragon Boat parking in 2016 when he asked the car drivers if they were for Brexit or Remainers. The Brexit ones were parked near the entrance and the Remainers he directed to the far side of the field.
I simply remember him as funny, forgetful, sometimes not very PC (!!) and a very kind man. He was excellent at the Young Essay Presentations – funny, kind and engaging with the children.
I have found it hard trying to remember what Bill said or did, but my memory of him was of a kind, humorous but nevertheless astute businessman.
The one thing that sticks in my mind, and will be remembered by any of the original members of the Club, was his job talk. Bill started his working life as an apprentice electrician with de Haviland at Hatfield. I am not sure if he finished his training but the next thing I recollect were his experiences as a trainee door to door (industrial branch) life insurance salesman which as you can imagine were hilarious.
I think Bill spent all his life in insurance and I can remember that what must have been his last innovation was an indemnity insurance policy for local authorities covering a greater than anticipated write down on disposal of wasting assets e.g. if the price achieved on the sale of, say, a fire engine was less than its written down value then the insurance policy covered the difference.
Bill would have congratulated me on remembering that, although I would not guarantee that I have got it right.
Bill attended a number of Friday evening gatherings of a local curry club called FNIM (pronounced finnim) which consisted of a number of Rotatrians. He didn’t really like curry so always got someone to order a meal for him but he was there for the banter with the group of blokes although sometimes he would stray and start talking with diners on adjoining tables.
Bill promoted charity work in Uganda in conjunction with Father Bernard, a priest who spent much time there. Projects included the provision of wheelchairs.
Brighter with Bill
Rotary meetings were always brighter when Bill was present with his great sense of humour.
One winter morning when there had been a snowfall he commented that Russell must have come on his horse.
One of Bill’s party pieces was to recall the surnames of all his classmates in alphabetical order explaining that he heard them called out so many times whilst waiting for his name at the end.
When I was asked to write a paragraph about a memory of Bill, I think of my last visit to his home at Hailey. Bill always had a fascination of time pieces and admired a good quality watch – he could spot a Swiss brand a few wrists away!
On that last evening visit, he suddenly said to Peter and myself “Are they Rolex watches you are wearing”? We confirmed they were, “Are you sure, he enquired further” and asked us to show him. He wanted to know the history, when we purchased them, where from. We dutifully removed our watches from our wrists and Bill gave them a thorough inspection.
There is a saying that goes you can tell a lot about a man by the shoes he wears, but some think you can tell more about the wearer’s character by their wristwatch.
A good watch says:
- You are dependable
- You are practical
- You are successful
- You have personal style
- you have a sense of adventure
- you value tradition
Bill’s watch would say he was kind, charitable, loyal, humorous and like his Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch – GENUINE
At the Essay Competitions Bill was brilliant at chatting with the parents and children and in 2019, before the presentation, he spoke with a family whose child was very good at playing the fiddle. Half way through the presentation he persuaded the child to play a piece and she was brilliant and the audience loved it.
This was Bill’s lovely way of encouraging people to do things.
View from the Pharmacy
16) I have known both Bill and Margaret for nearly 25 years from when they used to come into the pharmacy for their prescriptions. Margaret was the one who introduced me to the care home in Ware where I used to supply medicines for the residents. Whenever Bill came into the Pharmacy we all used to chat about everything. I always found him friendly and knowledgeable. In 2016 we were talking in the Pharmacy and he mentioned about joining Rotary club which met in the mornings. A few times I gave him a lift to the club. After joining the club I was chair of the International Committee and on one occasion I remember I had arranged a meeting and no one came except Bill who was not even member of the International committee that evening. I felt better after spending time with him. During my time as President of the club he would advise and guide me. He also talked about the formation of Hertford Shires Rotary Club and its founding members. It was also a pleasure and exciting to be with him when we went to FNIM or when he came to the pharmacy. Sometimes we also used to have coffee together in the Pharmacy. He will be greatly missed by me. Karsan