Every time we catch up with our Wolves Foundation diarists during the season, we will also speak to one of the charity’s trustees, finding out more about the wealth of skill and experience that sits on our Board.
First to face our Q&A is Kevin Rogers, who is also CEO of Paycare, the not-for-profit health care provider who became the Foundation’s first donor patrons when rebranding in 2018.
First of all Kevin, can you tell us a bit about your career?
It has been quite a strange career path to be honest! To start with, I have to say I never took school too seriously. Don’t follow that example everyone! I went to Pool Hayes Comp and loved every minute of it. It was the sport I really enjoyed and I played in the same team as former Wolves striker Wayne Clarke. ‘Give the ball to Wayne’ and he would usually score. That was our tactic. I was actually on schoolboy forms myself at Wolves so I was convinced I was going to be a professional footballer. But I wasn’t good enough. And then, in those days, it was easier to go from job to job to find out what you wanted to do.
I left school and started as an apprentice printer which wasn’t for me, and then, one of the things that people might not know about me is that I spent six months as a milkman. I was probably the world’s worst ever milkman as well! I was based at the Prestfield Road depot in Wednesfield, and while it was obviously an early start which is never great for me, one of the things that really appealed about the job was that it was an early finish as well. But as it turned out I was so bad and the rounds took me so long that they had to send people out to fetch me back to the depot because they couldn’t shut it as I was so late getting back. I was hopeless.
Lindsey, who is now my wife, used to come with me when we were collecting the money and of course she’d be going in having cups of teas with everyone and so we’d be taking even longer. It was an absolute nightmare! There was another time when I was delivering to a block of flats and had put the milk in the lift. Someone from another floor must have pressed the button and off the lift went. By the time it came back, all my float had gone! It soon became apparent this wasn’t the career for me.
Oh dear! What happened next?
Well inadvertently it led me into a career in accountancy, as it does! From milkman to accountant. I started to work my way up at Tarmac and stayed there for ten years. Then we moved to Northampton and I worked for a smaller company to get more experience and, from there, I was in senior finance positions for many years and became a very bored accountant! The biggest break in my career came in 2008, when I was made redundant after the financial crash. I found my way into a temporary finance manager role at Paycare and have been there ever since. I was then made Operations Director after a few months and then a couple of years later the Chief Executive left. I stood in, initially on a temporary basis, and was fortunate enough to get the role permanently. That was around 2011 and I have really enjoyed it ever since. Although I guess nothing can match the milkman job!
What are your hobbies and interests away from work?
Wolves! Myself and Lindsey are season ticket holders and also get to as many away games as we can. That is what we have been really missing during the pandemic. Games just aren’t the same now watching on TV and we are all missing out on that feeling of looking forward to the matches, meeting people beforehand, the whole atmosphere of the day.
Also more recently, because I have hit the big 60 and am going down to three days a week next year, I have taken up golf. I have always liked golf but never really had enough time to play it. Lindsey bought me some lessons for Christmas and now I am really hooked on it. It will be my hobby going forward, and has also led to a new set of acquaintances. When you work you often end up in the same bubble of colleagues and acquaintances but taking up golf will allow me to meet more people socially.
When and why did you decide to become involved with Wolves Foundation?
It was Will (Clowes), Head of Foundation, who approached me, and it was a bit of a shock to be honest. But a very nice one! They were looking to bring a couple more trustees onto the Board, and, at Paycare, we were founder patrons when the charity was rebranded from the Community Trust to the Foundation. That was always going to happen because of the long association Paycare had enjoyed with the Community Trust from the days of Rachael Heyhoe-Flint. What Will really wanted me to do was to use some of my connections from the local business community and bring more patrons on board for the Foundation. Unfortunately, with the pandemic we have just not been able to do that so far, but in the future I see my role as being to bring the Foundation to life for businesses. To try and show why they should be willing to get involved and support the charity for the good of the people of Wolverhampton.
What are your thoughts on the Foundation and the activities it provides? And how important has it been that they were able to adapt during the pandemic?
The Foundation carries out some amazing work. We have all seen how they have adapted during the pandemic and carried on supporting the local community. I have been massively impressed with how they have taken a positive view on such a difficult situation and understood that there are still a lot of people in the community who need the Foundation’s services. They have focused on what they can do rather than what they can’t do, and the people within the charity have been outstanding. They just keep coming up with new and different initiatives which is brilliant and, as a trustee, I am very proud of their achievements.
How have you been impacted by Covid-19 whether at work or in free time?
It has been a bizarre situation. At Paycare, we were up and running remotely within two days, going all the way back to March 12th. The team have been amazing. We have had no service or delivery issues. But in the early part of the first lockdown, dentists, opticians, chiropractors – some of the services included in our plans – weren’t open, and it became a matter of reaching out to our customers and communicating what services were still available. Mental health became a real focus for us, because a lot of people have been affected during the pandemic. We are seeing within our existing customer base that mental health and wellbeing is so important and they have been asking how we can help them.
Finally, if there is one thing you hope will change when life hopefully returns closer to normal following the pandemic, what would it be and why?
I think the community spirit has been good. But what has probably impressed me most has been to see more people getting out and having a walk. Enjoying the simple things. Everything that we used to enjoy that we maybe took for granted has been taken away from us. So it has been a case of what to do instead, and people have been getting out to Baggeridge or Cannock Chase and enjoying some exercise. That has got to be good for people’s mental and physical health. There has been a massive upsurge in sales of cycles as well, another sign of more people starting to look after their health a bit more. Hopefully people have got into some good habits which will continue when life eventually gets back to normal.
Many thanks for your time Kevin, and good luck with the golf!