Kenilworth stalwart praised in special tribute evening

Philip Highley speaking during the evening
Philip Highley speaking during the evening

Kenilworth Rotary held a special tribute to long-time member Philip Highley, a recent recipient of the British Empire Medal, in a special evening held in place of its usual meeting.

A two-time winner of Kenilworth’s Citizen of the Year Award, Philip, 77, was named in the New Year’s honours list after decades of voluntary work in Kenilworth and the surrounding area.

Philip wearing his heart badge on a chain, which was presented to him by John Kelly

Philip wearing his heart badge on a chain, which was presented to him by John Kelly

Several people at the meeting representing a variety of organisations praised Philip’s work with them.

Scout Association district commissioner Stuart Heaton wished to thank Philip for the huge difference he made to scouting in Kenilworth since he became an assistant district commissioner in 1974.

He made reference to Philip’s organisation of the district’s annual gang shows, as well as his ability to influence leaders and boys in the Scouts to put in their all to achieve their goals.

Philip’s work with the Scouts meant he was given the Silver Acorn Award, one of the most prestigious in scouting, in a presentation at Windsor Castle.

Dick Thacker from Talisman Theatre praised Phil’s contribution to the theatre over 40 years, including his many stints as an actor and his work as the theatre’s treasurer for many years. He described Philip as a “stalwart” at the theatre.

Ian O’Hara, representing the homeless charity Emmaus, said Philip’s work saved lives. A trustee of the charity, Philip recently completed a tour of all the Emmaus homes using only his bus pass.

The 1,300-mile journey took 21 days to complete and Philip boarded 90 different buses along the way. The trip raised £4,000 for the charity.

Fellow Rotarians also praised Philip’s work. David Tall, who has known Philip for 40 years, said the club had “benefitted tremendously” from his enthusiasm.

Bob Kelly described how Philip’s organisational skill meant he was able to produce 17 gang shows for scouts and guides over the years, with some shows having a cast of around 220. He also described how Philip managed to organise a gang show in a day, and called him a “human dynamo” when it comes to helping others.

Following all of these tributes, the president of Kenilworth Rotary, John Kelly, presented Philip with a purpose-made heart badge, designed to reflect his personality.