Six centuries of tradition continue with appointment of new Wardens

A medieval charity has elected two new Wardens in a tradition that stretches back more than six centuries.

Derek Butler has been elected as Senior Warden, while Russell Cooper is the new Junior Warden of the Rochester Bridge Trust.

A former Maidstone Borough Councillor and Mayor, Derek Butler was nominated to the Trust in 2015 and served as Junior Warden since 2021. His experience includes work at the National Coal Board and the Court Service.

He said: “It is an honour to be elected Senior Warden. The Trust is an historic charity operating in the modern world and all our work is carried out with the future in mind. From the long-term maintenance of our bridges or the immediate reduction of our carbon impact to the scholarships we offer to encourage and support the education of future civil engineers and farmers – it is forward thinking that has ensured this medieval organisation has continued for more than 600 years.”

Russell Cooper joined the Trust in 2007 and has previously served as Junior Warden from 2015-17, and Senior Warden from 2017-21. He is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The pair were formally elected in May, when they were joined by two new members of the Court of Wardens and Assistants, John Farmer and Dr Helen Pascoe, while long-standing member Paul Harriot stepped down after 40 years. These changes mean there are now 13 unpaid charity trustees.

The Rochester Bridge Trust was established in the 14th century, to take on the responsibility for the maintenance and provision of crossings of the River Medway at Rochester – at no cost to the public. It is governed by the Court of Wardens and Assistants. Of these, six are nominated members, with three by Medway Council, two by Kent County Council and one by Maidstone Borough Council.

A further seven are appointed from the community, based on their experience in engineering, estate management, finance or other areas useful for the business of the Trust. The two Wardens are elected by the members of the Court.

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