Derek Locke has been a response volunteer for disaster relief charity ShelterBox for many years. Now his dedication to the local and global community has earned him Rotary’s top award, for ‘service above self’.

There can be few greater life achievements than being honoured as a ‘gift to the world’ in a personal letter by the President of an international organization.

That is exactly what has happened to ShelterBox volunteer Derek Locke, described by outgoing Rotary International President K.R. Ravindran as ‘an extraordinary example of how each Rotarian can make a difference. I am honoured to have you as my fellow Rotarian and I thank you for all you have done, and all you will continue to do.’

Derek was presented with the Rotary International ‘Service Above Self’ Award on June 25 by then District Governor Wayne Brown Titus III in a ceremony at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Now retired from the telecommunications and computer service industry, Derek was born and raised in Plymouth, Devon, and has travelled abroad extensively. Resident in the USA for most of the last 30 years, he now lives in Michigan. A member of the Rotary Club of Dearborn Heights for eleven years, Derek has been a ShelterBox Ambassador since July 2010, a team coordinator for the SE Michigan Ambassador team, and a member of the ShelterBox USA Ambassador Council.

Derek describes his introduction to the charity in 2010.

When I visited my parents in Plymouth, being so close to the headquarters, my family decided to visit ShelterBox. I learned much about the operation and was so impressed with what ShelterBox did and the way that they operate, I decided that I needed to do what I could.

Just returned from ShelterBox’s deployment to the landslides in Sri Lanka, Derek has clocked up an amazing 38 weeks of service as a response volunteer in locations including Peru, Nigeria, Lebanon, Paraguay, Mexico, Malawi, Chile, Nepal, California, Fiji, and three separate deployments to the Philippines.

Rotary’s highest honour, granted to very few Rotarians worldwide, recognizes those who live up to the organization’s motto, ‘Service Above Self’, by volunteering their time and talents to help others. In addition to this latest plaudit, Derek Locke also holds five separate Volunteer Service Awards awarded by the US President.

Alex Youlten, ShelterBox’s Community Development Coordinator, worked with Derek recently in Sri Lanka. Alex says, ‘Derek’s actions really highlight the strength and potential of the Project Partnership between RI and ShelterBox. His commitment, passion, compassion and meticulous attention to detail are evident in all his work for communities around the world – helping to ensure the right response is delivered in the right way to those who need it the most.’

It was a privilege to work with him in Sri Lanka, and as a new Rotarian myself his energy and enthusiasm for both Rotary and ShelterBox are a shining example and endorsement that I have joined two great organizations.