Roger Brown is Cirencester's Hero
There can be few more deserving of the title ‘hero’ than Cirencester-champion and fundraiser Roger Brown, who has battled his own health problems whilst continuing to serve his community.
Charlotte Shepherd spoke to photographer Roger who picked up the Cirencester Hero accolade at the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards
THERE was a look of genuine surprise and delight on Roger Brown’s face when his name was read out as the recipient of the Cirencester Hero award at this year’s Cirencester Chamber of Commerce Business Awards.
As official photographer for the evening, the closest Roger had got to the stage prior to his own name being called out was arranging other winners to be photographed.
“It was unexpected and was even better knowing people had voted for it,” said Roger. “I was dressed for work and not to receive an award.”
Clearly a very popular choice on the night, former Cirencester county councillor Roger, 62, is known for his tireless work on behalf of the town, including playing a key role in the Save Our Post Office campaign, revamping Black Jack Street and fundraising for countless causes and charities.
He will also be known to many parents in the town for his role as a governor of a local primary school. And this is all despite his own battle since 2002 with a rare form of leukemia, Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia.
“10 years ago I was given five years to live so I thought I might as well go out with a bang and start making a difference,” said Roger, explaining what spurred him on to get involved in so many areas of Cirencester life.
Readers of Cotswold Life were asked to vote for someone who was focused on improving and spreading the name of Cirencester around the country. “I always had a policy of doing my best by Cirencester,” Roger said.
As county councillor for Cirencester, Roger had the chance to fight for the town at a local government level, something that he found frustrating at times. “I always felt that Cirencester didn’t get our fair share of the resources. Getting the council to change direction was a bit like steering the Titanic,” he explained.
Always a campaigner, Roger was there at the start of Action Cirencester, set up to oversee changes to the town. And as an active member of the Cirencester Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, he often used his skills as a photographer to assist in promoting the town.
“I have always thought of myself as a paid photographer but I have also done photographs for organisations or charities that cannot afford to hire someone,” he said.
Charity work has been high on Roger’s agenda and his involvement with Cotswold Breakthrough Breastcancer has seen him organise popular annual quiz nights. Never one to let his illness interfere with his fundraising, Roger even helped to run the quiz last September just weeks after receiving a stem cell transplant last August.
He has also set up his own charity WMUK to improve treatment for his own disease, raising £30,000 so far, and manning a talkline for people who have had their lives turned upside down by a diagnosis. Having defied the doctor’s odds, Roger feels he is in a great position to tell people that a diagnosis is not the end of the road.
Roger, who lived in Cirencester for 14 years prior to a recent move to Bristol, will be known to many Standard readers because of his photographs that regularly appear in these pages.
But photographer is just one of Roger’s many talents. He can list teacher, reservist RAF squadron leader, county councillor, CEO of the Cotswold Water Park Society and rowing coach to his long list of achievements. “I used to be a junior international rowing coach and taught James Cracknell to row,” said Roger.
Cirencester’s hero may have moved to Bristol but work and family commitments will see him return often to the town. “I hold a lot of affection for Cirencester,” he said.