A Tribute to Gary Knott,  1951 – 2019

Gary Knott, the inspiring and much-loved CEO and co-founder of the Michael  Roberts Charitable Trust, passed away at home on October 12th, after a long battle with leukaemia during which he bravely continued to lead the Charity’s work.

From the MTCT’s beginnings in 1997, working with people with disabilities in UK and Poland, especially through the Living Stones Christian drama group, the Charity has grown significantly.  Today it encompasses Harlow Foodbank, two Maybury Open Doors drop-in centres and a Bounty Club that supplies fresh and short-dated food, that would otherwise be discarded, to over forty front-line agencies, including school breakfast clubs and a women’s refuge.

From April 2018 to March 2019 Harlow Foodbank gave out emergency rations to nearly 6,000 needy people, through the St. Paul’s satellite and other centres, and the number requiring this service is still growing. Maybury Open Doors has provided safe venues, three days a week, for well over a hundred people to find friendship and pastoral and practical support, as well as enjoying recreational activities and inexpensive refreshments. Gary always made a point of frequently visiting all these areas of MRCT’s work, to encourage and inform staff, volunteers and service-users.

Over recent years Gary’s vision and drive and the generosity of a company donor has led to the setting up of the MRCT Storehouse Hub, at Housham Farm, near Harlow, where items for Foodbank and Bounty Club are delivered and sorted and a new office and training centre has been opened. Another innovation has been to collect and sell items confiscated from passengers at Stansted Airport, goods that would otherwise have gone to landfill. Gary’s most recent initiative has been to oversee a “Moving On” programme to recruit and train more volunteers with disabilities for MRCT’s operations. In all of this Gary, has enthused and engaged MRCT’s dedicated staff, volunteers and trustees, who are determined to continue and build on his great legacy. Gary’s devoted wife, Teresa, has agreed to become our CEO, to carry forward the work she helped to found and develop as a trustee.

These days, the Michael Roberts Charitable Trust requires around £160,000 per annum to sustain its vital caring and empowering activities. Gary’s energetic and persuasive approach to a good variety of generous grant-making organisations and individual and company donors has amazingly ensured the required income year after year, which Gary and the Trustees and our excellent voluntary treasurer have seen as a sure sign of God’s gracious provision. Gary’s firm Christian faith and character has sustained his vision and sacrificial leadership of the MRCT over many years, despite his debilitating illness. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to Teresa, Matthew, David, Samuel and other members of the family at this sad time. But above all, we thank God for all that Gary was and for all that he has achieved.