A store manager who hiked across Dartmoor in aid of Marie Curie has helped put his team on track to raise more than £3,000 for the charity in a year.
Dave Curtis, manager at the Wilko store in the Sovereign Shopping Centre in Boscombe, completed the gruelling 13-mile trek in 6 hours, as part of a year of fundraising for the store’s chosen charity.
It means his team at Wilko’s have now raised more than £2,700 in ten months in aid of Marie Curie, which supports people with terminal illness – and now they’re on track to raise £3,000 by May, when their fundraising year ends.
The charity is close to the hearts of many staff members at Wilko’s who have lost relatives, but the achievement is particularly poignant for Dave who lost his father in law to cancer six years ago.
Dave says he’s overwhelmed by the support of shoppers who have donated to the cause, and he praised the fundraising efforts of his staff who have also held regular book and cake sales, to help raise money.
The 48-year-old, who has managed the store since 2009, said: “Our fundraising year runs from May to May – and Marie Curie is our chosen charity.
“We’re nearly 10 months in and we’ve raised £2,700 as a store which is our best year so far.
“We raised £2,000 last year so we’ve done really well. We’re planning a few more events so by the end of the year we could easily hit the £3,000 mark.
“The money has mainly come from book sales at the front of the store, where we ask customers for a minimum donation of 50p, cake sales and coffee mornings.”
Of his personal challenge to trek across Dartmoor National Park in October, he said: “There was 16 of us from Wilko stores across the region. I raised about £250 in sponsorship.
“This was all new to me. They recommend doing a walk of a similar distance beforehand so I did one in July with the Poole store from Poole to Sandbanks.
“You need a good level of fitness. I wouldn’t say I was brilliant but I’m not too bad.
“It was very strenuous trekking across Dartmoor with lots of hills and climbing.
“It’s more intense than anything I’ve ever done before for charity but it was very rewarding.
“It was also enjoyable although at times we wondered what on earth we were all doing!
“I remember it was a really sunny, warm day. With it being October we were expecting it to be cold.
“Dartmoor is highly exposed but we had a fantastic day because the weather really helped.
“We were inspired by the views. The scenery and of course the cause really drove us on.”
Marie Curie is a particularly poignant charity for Dave who lost his father in law to cancer six years ago.
“He was diagnosed in October 2010 and we lost him in the January”, he explained.
“It all happened in a short space of time which was good in one way because he didn’t suffer, but we weren’t expecting to lose him so quickly.
“A lot of staff have lost family members to cancer and we’ve lost team members in the past.
“We all want to support any sort of charity that is close to cancer or terminal illness.”
Dave and his team have decided to continue fundraising for Marie Curie for a further 12 months such is their passion for the charity.
Before May arrives they plan to have one final fundraising push to hit the £3,000 mark.
Dave admits he’s been overwhelmed by the support of local shoppers and believes charity events help build a rapport with the local community.
He said: “We’re planning on having another big book sale, potentially in March.
“We’ll also have cakes and a tombola. It’ll be a Friday or Saturday so we can capitalise on the footfall.
“The book sales do really well. They’re unmanned and it’s down to people to manage it themselves.
“We gauge how well it’s doing by our monthly charity bankings which is usually £250-300, most of which comes from the book sales.
“It was probably about six or seven years ago when we started supporting a chosen charity.
“The business as a whole would do it but we never had it as individual stores.
“Now we’ve been allocated a budget we can support local charities and causes like Marie Curie.
“It helps build a rapport with the local community and amongst staff. It’s a fantastic thing for us all to do and I have a really great team here.”
Sovereign Shopping Centre Manager Peter Ruscoe said: “Huge congratulations must go to Dave and his team at Wilko’s whose fantastic fundraising efforts have raised a significant amount of money for a vital cause.
“It’s brilliant that not only have they already beaten last year’s fundraising total but they are well on course to break the £3,000 mark.”
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