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60 Seconds with Wendy Gathercole

60 Seconds with Wendy Gathercole


What led you to your current role in the charitable sector?

Working within the charitable sector came after a series of unexpected events. I’m an accountant by profession but then retrained as a maths teacher. It was during the first year of my new teaching job that my husband sadly fell ill and passed away.

In the aftermath of my husband’s passing, my son made a huge decision to attempt to row the Atlantic alone in aid of the Princess Alice Hospice that took care of his father during his illness. He rang me from university to tell me about it all. He asked me if I was thinking about going back to work … and then introduced the idea of me doing the fundraising. I said “How much are you thinking?” and he said, ever so casually, “I think if we raise £240,000 that’ll be fine.”

At first, I reacted to the idea of me being the chief fundraiser for the project in disbelief – I felt inexperienced and I didn’t think I had the right skill set. Despite this, I did it… and came out of the other side with £270,000 raised.
Off the back of fundraising for my son, I was recommended for my current role. Home-Start UK is a national charity, and I’m a trustee for Home-Start Guildford.

How did you manage to raise this huge amount of money with no fundraising experience? 

I tried out lots of ideas - not necessarily all successful!  I got Persil on-board as a main sponsor and pulled in the community network. At the end of it all, Callum broke the World Record and we achieved a huge amount of funding for a very worthwhile charity.

Please tell us more about Home-Start. 

We provide an essential community service to help families avoid a downward spiral of social services and mental health issues by offering support and friendship in the home.
We offer a regular, friendly, reliable trained presence that struggling families know they can trust to point them in the right direction and keep family life together.
We fully train our volunteers, and our volunteers help the families – this can range from practical help, getting out to the shops, dropping them off at playgroup, to emotional support. It might even be something as simple as giving an overworked parent some time off.
The average term for a volunteer to visit an individual family is about 9 months and each volunteer is carefully matched to the individual family and supported by Home-Start staff.

Could you describe an exciting moment or break-through you’ve had whilst working at Home-Start?

Most of our families have come forward after their experience with us to say that we’ve made a difference. One of the most memorable comments we have had back is, “If it hadn’t been for our volunteer, we wouldn’t be a family anymore” – comments like that are not only heart-warming but show us what a vital service Home-Start provides.

How have you found working with The County Club?

All of the people are really lovely. It’s humbling to see how kind and helpful people are towards our cause. The County Club has been an outstanding example of how a community can propel a charity’s visibility.
Through working with the County Club, the amount of funding that has been raised has made this year so much easier. We have also been taken on for next year by local law firm Pennington Manches as their charity of the year, so we’re looking forward to the next part of fundraising for 2019!
It’s also nice to feel that the people of Guildford are helping out their neighbours who might be going through a tough time. Sometimes it is all too easy for the local charities to slip under the radar. 

What is your vision for the future of the charity?

It would be fantastic to have more exposure in Guildford because it will not only help our charity to keep going, delivering the vital work that Guildford needs, but it will also help to spread the message to potential volunteers. This is good for promoting a well-rounded society view, as well as Home-Start itself.

How can our readers who wish to support Home-Start get involved?

You can contact Home-Start Guildford about becoming a volunteer here: The next training course starts on 26th September.
This November, we are hosting a fabulous ball at Mercedez-Benz World, just in time for the start of the party season. Tickets are available here:
If you are doing a fundraising activity that is sponsored, please consider choosing Home Start as your charity. More information can be found on Home-Start’s website:



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