Highest honour for intrepid Sheffield graduate

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His exploits, cycling more than 23,000 miles and raising £60,000 for worthwhile causes, resulted in an unprecedented honour for a former Sheffield student.

Twenty-six years-old adventurer Dave Cook of Baslow is believed to be the first Rotary International global scholar in the UK to be awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship, Rotary’s highest honour.

The long-distance cyclist and charity fund-raiser was recommended for the award by the Rotary Club of Signal Hill in Cape Town, South Africa,

He has worked towards a master’s degree in environmental science, with a focus on sustainable agriculture, there, for the last two years.

During the past eight years, Dave has taken part in five long-distance pedal-cycle expeditions in the UK and abroad, and he has helped to raise around £60,000 for mainly water-based charities, both here in the UK and overseas.

The most challenging was an 8,000-mile-ride through eight countries in South East Asia, from Singapore to Mumbai.

This raised £23,000 for Rotary’s ground-breaking Aquabox project. More recently, he led the first leg of a ride from Cape Town to Malawi in aid of the Long Well water charity walk.

Dave is already planning another major fund-raising venture, by running a marathon every day for 10 days along the west coast of Ireland.

And he nurtures a long-held dream to follow the route down the Mississippi River that was taken by Hucklebury Finn, on a pedalo made of recycled material!

At the presentation ceremony for the Paul Harris Fellowship, past district governor Peter Hugo said: “I do not think we have ever had a scholar who has taken his commitment to Rotary so diligently and enthusiastically.”

Dave was awarded the global scholarship on the recommendation of the Rotary Club of Bakewell after completing an honours degree course in biology at the University of Sheffield.

He said: “I still find it hard to believe that I should have been honoured in this way. It’s like a dream.”

A senior Rotary official confirmed that the former Lady Manners School, Bakewell, student looked certain to have made Rotary history.

“We have been through all available records and cannot find any previous global scholar who has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship”, he said.

Once Dave has completed the thesis for his MA, he intends to apply for a post with the United Nations.