13/07/2021

David Williamson has been the recipient of numerous awards and nominations for his fearless fundraising efforts and unrelenting determination to break boundaries. As a double amputee and wheelchair-user, David can relate all too well to the inequalities faced by disabled people. He uses his disability as a force of inspiration to motivate others – disabled or not – to push their boundaries and go that one step further.

David will be doing 106 laps of a 400m running track (42km) as part of the Enham 100 Challenge on Wednesday 14 July. This being his 34th wheelchair marathon in five years, we caught up with David to hear about his motivations behind fundraising and why he thinks the work we do at Enham Trust is so important.


You’re about to tackle your 34th marathon in five years. What keeps you so motivated?

It’s very much a 50/50 split. Half of it is fundraising and half of it is the feedback. I receive quite a few messages either from people with disabilities saying I’ve inspired them to do something, or parents of disabled children saying I’ve given them hope. 

After my ninth marathon in the 30 marathons in 30 days challenge, I got a message from a lady whose husband was a double-amputee and said it had inspired him. I get these messages from people saying it’s inspired them to do something – to test their limits. Those limits might be walking to the bottom of the garden or trying to get dressed with a little less help from their carer – but just to push those limits a little bit. Those are the sorts of messages that keep me going.



The personal messages David receives are what motivates
him to keep challenging himself

“I get these messages from people saying it’s inspired them to do something – to test their limits… Those are the sorts of messages that keep me going.”

You’re also the head coach of the Sitting Bucks Volleyball Club – has sport always played a big part in your life?

Yeah, sport has been really important. When I was growing up in the mid-80s, there was a whole range of disability sports clubs, certainly across the south and most of England. You’d go along and there’d be the opportunity to try archery or bowls, table tennis or badminton, and you had people with a full range of disabilities. Once a month, each club would host their own event and you would go along and compete against other people with disabilities. It was really inclusive and really important. My mum encouraged me to take part, so I would be exposed to an environment where disability is accepted. It was so normal.  

I was never told I couldn’t do anything. When I was 11, I tried out for the school football team to be in goal. I got into the second team and that really shouldn’t happen – a kid who’s had both his legs amputated shouldn’t go along and try out to be goalkeeper – but, because no one told me I couldn’t, I went and did it anyway. It’s important to push boundaries while, at the same time, making sure we don’t realise those boundaries are there. As soon as you set boundaries, you only go as far as them. That’s why you’ve got to kick them back and try everything, do anything.

 

According to David, sport has always been a major
part of his life and and an opportunity to push boundaries



“It’s important to push boundaries while, at the same time, making sure we don’t realise those boundaries are there. As soon as you set boundaries, you only go as far as them.”


Unfortunately, the funding for these types of activities just doesn’t exist anymore, and that restricts people’s opportunities to try new things out. I think it’s a massive problem; if you don’t allow people to have the opportunity to try new things, how are they going to know if they enjoy it? 

What made you pick Enham Trust for your 34th marathon?

I think the stuff you do is absolutely vital; I think it’s so important. And if you guys weren’t doing it, would the people you support have those opportunities otherwise? – probably not. It comes back full circle to the sports clubs I used to go to and how they’re not there anymore. Because of my experience, I recognise the issue and think it’s really important to support you.

“I think the stuff you do is absolutely vital…if you guys weren’t doing it, would the people you support have those opportunities otherwise? – probably not.”

Is that what makes Enham Trust stand out as a disability charity for you, then?

It’s all about opportunity. If you weren’t giving people the opportunities you do, those opportunities quite simply wouldn’t be there. I think that’s the most important thing. What I’m very aware of with my disability is that it hasn’t held me back very much. I think I’ve been so lucky and, when I was growing up in the 80s, that help was there. Even something as simple as someone coming round and putting banisters up on the stairs – that support isn’t there where it should be. People have to pay for that, and they may not be able to. You guys are filling that gap and that’s why I wanted to fundraise for you.

“That support isn’t there where it should be…You guys are filling that gap and that’s why I wanted to fundraise for you.”


Have you got any advice for people taking on the Enham 100 Challenge?

Firstly, there’s the opportunity to learn about you guys and what you do. I wasn’t aware of Enham Trust until my friend mentioned working for you. So, for me, it’s been an opportunity to learn about you and just how important you guys are as a charity.

Secondly, in terms of the fundraising, you have to be prepared to annoy people by putting the same Tweet out or on your Facebook account, or telling people ‘I’m doing this for this reason’. I’m quite happy to tell everyone what I’m doing and sit back and let them tell me how brilliant I am, just for the sole purpose of getting them to put their hand in their pocket.

So, make sure everyone knows what you’re doing. If you’ve got a neighbourhood Facebook page or something – even phone up the news and ask for an interview and to put an article out. News stations are really keen for content, especially Good News Stories that are happening – we get so much bad news that they’re desperate for something cheerful to write about. Do every single interview and answer every single phone call and - try to! - answer every single email.

Ultimately, if you’re going to fundraise, you’re not going to do very well if no one knows what you’re doing. Get out there, raise your head above the parapet and be prepared for people to say ‘Oh will you give over about that’. And enjoy it!

 

Visit David’s JustGiving page here to support him in his 34th marathon

Images taken from David's Twitter page


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