A View from the Chair October 2015
Sorry for the long delay since my last edition of View from the Chair, this is due to me retiring from a 20 year career in the NHS in April, resigning from my post as chair of WDP in order to apply for the post of chief executive. As you can see I was successful. Thank you to over 20 volunteers, staff and trustees who were involved in the gruelling recruitment process.
The first six months certainly have been very busy. As planned I spent the first three months visiting every team, learning more about each team and its members, listening to whatís good and what could be better. The feedback I received helped to inform our initial short-term business plan that we are currently working through.
It also provided ideas for the framework of our three year plan that will be launched next year. That plan will focus on building a sustainable future for Team WDP. It will also lead to a second three year plan that will be launched in 2019 that will include succession plans for my retirement in 2022. Thatís the plan...
October at Team WDP has been an emotional rollercoaster, lows with the deaths of not one but three of our volunteers and highs with confirmation of financial backing from a number of corporate supporters as we head towards 2016 and our 25th anniversary year.
Firstly we heard about the sad loss of Andrea Glenn, a volunteer in the main office and popular with members of our luncheon clubs. Together with her son Tom, Andrea also volunteered at Disability Awareness Day.
A couple of days later we received devastating news from our trustee Adrian Derbyshire about the sad loss of his 16 year old daughter Julia. She was a volunteer in our learning centre and sports zone at Disability Awareness Day. Julia was a huge supporter of her dad Adrian with his work highlighting hate crime.
Within the same week we received further sad news that Elaine Ives, wife of our patron Peter Ives, had lost her two year battle with cancer. We last saw Elaine at the Scuba Challenge in September. For over 20 years Elaine was a regular volunteer at Disability Awareness Day, especially with her colleagues and friends from Birchwood Lions, playing a vital role in marking out the event site and stewarding.
Nearly everyone involved with WDP and DAD knew one or more of them. Our thoughts and condolences go out to Tom, Adrian, Peter, their family and friends.
I know that Andrea, Julia or Elaine would be overjoyed to hear that our plans for our 25th anniversary year have taken off with a huge bang. After months of hard work involving dozens of meetings, listening to our staff, volunteers and our partners, we have signed off plans to launch the WDP 25th Anniversary Legacy Appeal.
The Appeal will be formally launched on the 2nd December at our Annual Meeting. Our aim is to raise a minimum of £150,000 during 2016; the fund will be used to support jobs for 5 young disabled people each year, contributing up to £10,000 each per year. During the year, each young person will be based at one of our services and will receive opportunities for personal development through work placements with one of our business partners or attending training courses.
During 2016 we are looking for:
As I write this edition of View from the Chair I can confirm that we have already received pledges totalling over £65,000, plus four organisations have chosen WDP as their Charity of the Year in 2016 and we have secured a sponsor for our 25th anniversary charity dinner. The details of all of our supporters will be published in my November View from the Chair due out after our Annual Meeting. In the meantime, if you want details on how you can sign up, please contact Janis on 01925 240064.
The first initiative as part of our 25th anniversary celebrations was launched in last weekís Warrington Guardian. Our poster competition focussing on what disabled people can do, is open to under 18ís in three categories, under 7ís, 7 to 11ís and 11 to 18ís. The overall winners amazing prize (thanks to our friends at the Golden Square) is to have their poster turned into a huge shop front poster promoting our 25th anniversary activities.
During a meeting with our friends at the Warrington Guardian I shared a copy of the first newspaper article that featured our work back in September 1991. It was about our campaign highlighting shortages on parking spaces for orange badge holders (since replaced by the blue badge). The photo included Eric, Alan, me and Sarah Stanner, a 14 year old schoolgirl who had volunteered to help us with a survey. Adam from the Guardian suggested we should put out a call to see if we could find Sarah. Well after articles in the newspaper, on-line, Twitter and Facebook Sarah made contact and she and her husband visited the Centre last week where she met Pam, me and the Team. I thanked her for helping us to get started over 24 years ago. We have invited Sarah to join us at one or two of next yearís celebration events.
Congratulations to Caroline and Stacey for achieving success in their higher education courses both donned their caps and gowns for their university presentations. I canít believe that they are both considering their next steps, could we have our first Drís in the team; Dr Thompson and Dr King! That said, one of our volunteers, Abbie has recently started her five year university course where she aims to be a doctor. Caroline and Stacy better get a move on!
Another member of Team WDP also received recognition for their hard word work when Tom received the award for Inspiring Young People in the Warrington Youth Club Annual Awards.
During the past month we have said goodbye to two of our longest serving members of staff as they hang up their pen and duster respectively, heading off to retirement.
First we said our fond farewells to Doreen, our Finance Officer, itís strange to think that she joined 14 years ago when our annual turnover was only tens of thousands. As a testament to Doreen and many others whoís hard work has helped to build WDP to what it is today, our projected turnover this year will be around one and a half million.
Last weekend as I joined Pam Dave and Janis packing away one of our accessible caravans in Pensarn North Wales we were sad to say goodbye to our caretaker Lesley.
Where has the summer gone, it doesnít feel like eight months ago that we were there cleaning the caravan ready for the 2015 summer season. But as we near the end of the year it will soon be time to moor up the Wizard accessible narrow-boat for the last time for 2015, and what a year Phil and his team of volunteers have had. In what will be, Philís last year as skipper before he retires, the Wizard has completed over 130 day trips up and down the Bridgewater Canal giving over 1000 disabled people a trip of a lifetime.
The past month has been one of, if not, the busiest in terms of fundraising, both internally and externally. Supporter Mike organised events at Sutton Hall Golf Club during his year as club captain and WDP supported Shaun from Protive held a charity golf day at Poulton Park Golf Club. During the golf days we made contact with several people who have since signed up to support us during our 25th anniversary year.
On a personal note, I wasnít looking forward to joining Janis and the team at the golf days, in fact I felt ill thinking about being there. The reason, well, golf played a huge part of my life prior to my accident in 1989. I played off a low single figure handicap, and played at some of the top courses in the UK and Europe. About a year after my accident I tried to hit a few balls but gave up very frustrated and depressed thinking only about what Iíd lost.
When I arrived at Poulton Park I saw Tom on the practise hole and eventually gave in to the urge to have another go. This time I didnít think about what I could do before, but concentrated on the here and now. I was ecstatic when I got a couple onto the green. This led to me challenging friend of WDP and ex-Great Britain rugby league star Paul Sculthorpe MBE to a nearest the pin shootout. Donít tell Paul Iíve told you, but I wonÖÖ..it cost him £10 to the WDP fund.
I was actually looking forward to the second golf day at Sutton Hall, it was a very memorable day, and this time I got to hit a few decent 200yd drives. Tom and James will remember the day for the wrong reasons. Whilst teeing off on the practise hole James sliced a shot into the car park, smashing the windscreen on Tomís new car!
More Generous Support
The past month has seen Quiz Nights, Soul Night, and Tombolaís at Ikea, Town Centre and Bus Interchange. Plus we supported my old colleagues at 5 Boroughs NHS Arts Festival. A raffle at an NHS event and several private donations took the months fundraising income to an amazing £10,000.
Giving Something Back
Last month a group of trustees, staff and volunteers represented Team WDP at the WIRE FM Local Hero Awards, we were honoured to have supported the Contribution to Charity Award. It was evident from the photos that it was a fantastic night, with lots of fun, emotion and excitement. Unfortunately I wasnít able to join the party as I was guest speaker at the NHS Procurement Awards in Blackpool, more about this later.
It was nice to be joined by Naomi and Nathan when Pam and I attended the Annual Mayors Charity Dinner organised by Warrington Ethnic Community Association (WECA). It was encouraging to hear how WECA is working locally, nationally and internationally to promote peace and community harmony. We enjoyed a guided tour of the refurbished mosque, it is understandable why our guide was so proud of the facilities that include beautifully tiled bathing area and luxury carpeted prayer area. I look forward to seeing the new Mihrab when it is finished early next year.
Welcome on Board
During my first six months in post as chief executive I have worked closely with our chairman John, developing plans that will build a sustainable future for WDP and our social enterprise the Disability Trading Company, starting with the membership of our two Boards. We are pleased to welcome Donna and Carl onto our Board of Trustees at WDP. Our DTC Board welcomed Mark and Jamie as Non-Executive Directors.
They bring with them a wealth of skills, experience and knowledge that will enable us to sustain, and more importantly build on our strengths and explore new opportunities.
Continuing our quest for building a sustainable future John and I have been busy inviting a wide range of corporate partners, old and new, to visit the Centre for Independent Living where they have met members of the team. These visits are proving very useful in increasing awareness about what we do, and in developing new ideas. One potential opportunity could prove to be the biggest single new service since the launch of DTC, which today generates a substantial amount of un-ring-fenced funds to WDP.
A very successful visit to the UKís largest trade show on mobility and independent living products also saw us developing new partnerships with new suppliers.
News that I have retired from the NHS seems to have ignited interest in me speaking at universities, conferences, dinners and awards. Early last month I was guest lecturer at the University of Liverpool; it was good to hear that my disability equality session was very well received by over 80 radiography students. Next week Iíll be returning to the University to deliver a lecturer on sex and disability matters, to over 100 student occupational therapists.
As members of Team WDP were enjoying the party at the WIRE FM Awards I joined over 350 NHS staff at their Annual Procurement Awards. As after dinner speaker, I enjoyed sharing my experiences of the NHS, from inside/out. My satirical view of the NHS as a patient, a senior member of staff and now a supplier, was very well received. I would like to thank WDP Patron Pete Pinnington and his team for organising a raffle on the night that raised over £1000 for WDP. I should also thank the winner of the top prize, a 32ins TV, as he donated back to WDP.
WDPís international activities have really taken off during the past month. Firstly, plans are firming up for our joint project with St Mark Cops Universal that will see us supplying refurbished mobility aids to disabled people living in Egypt and Sudan. As our 25th Disability Awareness Day edges ever nearer we have received news that the Message Institute in India will hold their 6th DAD on the 10th July, same as ours. Last week we received an enquiry from a disability organisation in New Zealand, very interested in organising an event, and they have contact with a group based in Australia who they think could also join us. In two weeks a group from Uganda are visiting the Centre with a view to developing a partnership with WDP, this includes them organising a DAD event. It looks like DAD 2016 will certainly be a truly international event.
Finally for this month, when I retired from the NHS I thought I was saying goodbye to the ongoing opportunities available to senior managers for personal development, including training on coaching and leadership. That was until I was introduced to the Academy for Chief Executives (ACE). ACE offers peer support, professional coaching and access to some of the very best internationally acclaimed business speakers. The three words on one of the slides used by Roger Harrop at our last meeting really resonated with me; Belief, Passion and Courage.
As we look ahead to our 25th anniversary year, I have spent time reflecting on our journey so far, which contains lots and lots of highs, many miles of level ground, with a couple of bumps, and a few lows, some deeper than others. Overall I know that everyone who has been involved contributed something to the success we see today.
There have been many times when my belief has been tested by the challenges we have faced, but I have never lost my passion for us to succeed, in fact, some of the biggest challenges we have faced have actually fuelled my passion. But there has never been a question about me having the courage to succeed, as that is driven by the knowledge that Team WDP continues to make a positive difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people, here in Warrington, the North West, the UK and also across the world.
Thanks for your interest; I hope you enjoyed this edition of a View from the Chair.
PS. Keep up to date with what's new at WDP follow me on Twitter @davet21
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