Speaker Meeting 5th March 2018

Hard Lessons Learnt in the Law

On Monday 5th March the members of Church Wilne Rotary Club welcomed their former member, Stephen Woolley, to the Royal Oak in Ockbrook when he gave the members an insight into "Hard lessons learnt in the Law".

Stephen said it was good to be back with the members and was delighted to be able to share his experiences of a legal career over almost 50 years. This was his third talk on the subject to the members and perhaps to counter balance the many good times he would speak about some of his hard lessons learnt in the Law.

He spoke about his time as a 5 year old growing up in a small mining village near to Doncaster and how he remembers how some were less equal than others. His village was a coal mining area and it was cruel and dangerous for those in work but there was a group of men who didn't work but all had an aluminium walking stick.

At the end of his education in July 1969 he had planned, with two friends and his housemaster, to get an Ex Army Ambulance and drive to Istanbul but the Housemaster disappeared and was never seen again. So they bought a Mini and enjoyed the next few months travelling around Switzerland until he started work in November.

The offices had five stories, with the first two having carpets and the remainder just hard floors and he was stationed on the top floor. He recalled then that New Years day was not a Bank Holiday and everyone looked on that day like they were on life support including his friend David who arrived at 4.30 and left at 5.00. David was a good friend and important part of his life but one day he didn't turn up and they all speculated on why but at 11.00 am they were told that he had been killed in a road traffic accident on the A1.

Law is competitive and sensitive and Stephen had to just get on with his career. He recalled the recession in the early 1990s which hit the service industries hard when it seemed everyone got paid before you did. Also around that time it was traditional for the Bank to invite them to a Christmas party which the senior bank manager hosted just before his impending retirement which everyone thought how lucky he was. Not so, early the very next day when the Fraud Squad arrived at his home with a battering ram and despite all his benefits there was over £200k unaccounted for and he was found guilty and sent to Sudbury prison.

Giving advice to a client.

Not all cases are easy.

Stephen also spoke about his training for 5 years as a Lawyer which included time at the Guilford Law College and how lucky he was when looking for accommodation when he somehow managed to get a magnificent flat on a farm which had tennis and croquet courts. They dined each evening, along with 5 other flat mates, with fine wine and each flat had its own en-suite. They often saw cars leaving the farm such as a Bentley and a Rolls Royce and were later informed it belonged to Lt. Col. Gates the son on the founder of Cow and Gates. After this wonderful 9 months away he returned to lodgings in Ilkeston where he was the only person not in uniform before realising he was in Police lodgings.

Stephen spent 15 years in criminal law and he recalled several stories from those years including a man who committed suicide just two days after Stephen had spoken for him in court and not a day goes by in the last 20 years when he didn't think about him. Another and happier occasion was when speaking for a youngster from the area, who could not keep his hands in pockets in shops, he persuaded them to give him a last chance. A few years ago he meet this man in a supermarket, he was smart and well over 6 feet tall and his job was "Head of security" and he said to Stephen "It takes one to know one Mr Woolley".

The club's vote of thanks was give by John Astell who said "It is great to welcome you back tonight and you have entertained with many accounts in the past and tonight is no exception".

For more information on Rotary, our speaker evenings, events and the main activities organised by our club please contact Rotarian Nigel Roberts at: rccw1220@gmail.com

Ray Terry
For the Rotary Club of Church Wilne

26th February 2018


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