The Gazette . Friday, 13th August 2004


'I couldn't do it without my wife's support and some great teamwork'

Dave is a fundraising legend


He has helped drum up over 1 million for a Gloucestershire-based charity and that is before he goes home to indulge in his hobbies. He is a well-known commentator on the motorsport circuit. And in what little spare time he has left he has been saving bears and writing books. SAME BOND speaks to one-man whirlwind Dave Stallworthy, from Yate, about 25 years in fundraising.


A quick glance around the Spring Centre in Quedgeley and it is obvious a lot has been spent providing disabled children with facilities they deserve. One man has been the linchpin around which fundraising efforts have resolved. Clearly dedicated to his work, Dave Stallworthy has been bringing home the bacon for sports teams and charities for a quarter of a century. Key to his success has been his positive thinking and being able to bounce back from any blow life throws at him. "Enthusiasm, motivation and a love of life, that's what fundraising is really all about," said Dave. "It's down to the support of other people and the cause. That's what makes it so wonderful. "If you look at the history of fundraisers, you don't find many who always stick at it. My longevity in the job is due in part to the fact that I don't get de-motivated for very long. "I might have a bad day when I'm really down but by the next morning I'm back on cloud nine and full of enthusiasm."



Dave, who hails from Malmesbury, started his working life in retail for grocery chain International Stores. "In 1977 I got a chance to manage the branch in Russell Street in Stroud, the shop that is now Peacocks," he said. In Stroud he met his wife to be, Hazel, and the couple soon moved to Yate, where they have lived since. Dave managed the Stroud store for two years before giving up the job in search of something more fulfilling and profitable. He became a manager for scratch card company Goldliner Pools selling lottery tickets. "That's how I first got into fundraising," he said. "We had an office in Market Street in Nailsworth.

"In the first 18 months scratch cards were booming and we managed to raise 100,000 for Forest Green just from them. "We also took on Cheltenham Town FC and Gloucester City FC as clients and it was very successful." After a stint with Goldliner Dave took his new expertise to Gloucester City FC, working directly for the club for some 13 years. "We built up the lottery there to one of the largest in the South West," he said. "I was involved in other fundraising activities there, from raising revenue, putting adverts in programmes to putting on different events like the sportsman's dinner. "I also heard about a scheme that Yeovil Town had done, which was to have a draw for the main sponsor whose name would go on the players' shirts. "We raised over 20,000 from that alone." While he enjoyed working with the club, eventually Dave decided he wanted to move on to pastures new. "After 13 years with the football club I was ready for a move," he said. "I wanted to move into the non-profit sector, the charity world. "A fundraiser needs to be motivated and when the club changed hands it felt like the right time to move on. "I loved raising money for sport but thought there must be something better. I wrote to local charities and there was a chap at the Spring Centre who had heard I had been successful at whatever I did so they gave me a job. "To be honest I have never looked back."


Goal Posts

Shortly after Dave joined the children's charity it moved from its terrapin at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital to its current base in Quedgeley. "All of a sudden the goal posts had moved," said Dave. "We had to launch a major appeal, the Springy Appeal, to raise something in the region of 1 million to cover the building, the refurbishment and running costs. It was a real challenge." Speak to Dave for just a few minutes and his pride in the work of the Spring Centre shines through. The county charity has grown from its initial aim to support pre-school children with disabilities and learning difficulties and their families to working with young people right up to the age of 16. As well as running its own services, the charity lends its facilities to other groups and takes the children on trips and activity outings they might not otherwise have the chance to enjoy. "Something worthwhile really has been done for the families," said Dave. "Nothing can match what's happened over the last few years." While he might be the top fundraiser for the charity, Dave is keen to acknowledge it is not a one-man job. "I've got a good team around me," he  said. "I've got 25 years' experience of raising funds but you can't do it on your own. "And at the end of the day it's not Dave Stallworthy, it's the people who are supporting us that make things happen. All I do is come up with the ideas." Running the Springy Appeal has been the biggest challenge in Dave's career. "I thought it would be easier than it was," he said. There is an art to fundraising - it's not just a case of going out with a collection box on the street. "It's all about planning. There is a private appeal and a public appeal. Usually there is a lot going on behind the scenes before the public launch of a major appeal. "Approaches are made to businesses and wealthy landowners who might support the appeal, so you've got something to build on before it goes public. "But we couldn't do that with the Springy Appeal because we didn't have the time. "We were already in the building and had to find the money to pay for it. "We had to get straight in, looking at all the angles and went for it with all guns firing. "The people of Gloucestershire got behind us and they are still behind us today and we are very grateful for that." The Spring Centre today is a monument to the generosity of the people of Gloucestershire and the hard work of the fundraisers. It is fitted out with some impressive facilities including a soft-play area complete with interactive sound and light effects and the dreamy sensory room, designed to stimulate the senses and relax the children who use it. But despite the impressive success of the Springy Appeal Dave has not time to rest on his laurels. "Within the next 12 months we will finish the refurbishment but we have another major problem," he said.



"When we bought the building it stripped our bank balance so again we're desperate to raise funds. We need to get some reserves in there to take the pressure off. "There is almost as much pressure now as there was when we were trying to get the building. "Without those extra funds we'll have a nice posh building but we won't be able to provide the service. "The pressure goes on, it doesn't go away."  With all that pressure at work, Dave could be forgiven for wanting to put his feet up when he got home. Instead he drives into his hobbies with the same passion he shows for his job. He has recently used his fundraising skills to help co-ordinate a campaign in South Gloucestershire to relieve the suffering of Chinese bears. "I saw something absolutely horrific on the news about black Asiatic bears kept in tiny cages in China and milked for their bile. It was awful. I followed it up and found out dozens of people had been in touch. I asked if they would like my help organising the fundraising." So far the group has managed to raise around 10,000, enough to rescue two bears from a life of suffering. Dave's other love is motorbike racing, an interest since an early age. In recent years he has been compiling a complete history of grass track racing in the UK, which is being published in instalments by Tempest. With all the activities Dave shoe-horns into his busy life, he is grateful for his wife's understanding, "Without somebody like my Hazel I wouldn't be able to do any of it," he said

D & H
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