For the original article by Holly Watson for the Kendal Chronicle please click here.
Local Kendal shop receives Major Donor Gold Award for contributions towards Bendrigg Trust
White Stuff is a well-known brand worldwide, but back in April 2014 they brought the big-name brand to the little market town of Kendal. Since the opening nearly three years ago, it has gained immense popularity amongst the locals and those a bit further afield, becoming a staple shop for the fashion-conscious residents of the Lake District.
But the shop prides itself on more than selling clothes – it is a big part of the Kendal community. The White Stuff brand builds long-term relationships with local charities all over the country through their Foundation, linking every shop with a charity and supporting them by giving funds, time and material support.
When deciding on Kendal’s charity partner, White Stuff even got Kendal residents involved with the decision, asking people to vote on who the shop’s charity should be back in March 2014. An overwhelming 86% of the vote went to Bendrigg Trust – a local charity providing adventure activities for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages.
As part of their pledge, the White Stuff Foundation also matches any money raised by the shop for the charity, doubling each donation that Bendrigg receives. This has meant that, since the opening of the shop nearly three years ago, White Stuff Kendal have raised an incredible £15,000 for the charity, earning them the ‘Major Donor Gold Award’ for their contributions.
White Stuff regular Dawn Kirkpatrick, of Beast Banks, praised the shop for their work with the trust:
“I think it’s great how much the staff do for charity, and more shops should be doing it! It’s just another incentive for me to shop here.”
Julie Bond, 28, agrees:
“It’s lovely to see such a recognised brand helping make such a big difference to a small local charity – even the 5p carrier bag charge doesn’t go to the company, it goes direct to the charity!”
The Kendal management team regularly send out staff to the charity’s base in Old Hutton, most recently to help with the development of Acorn House, a completely accessible accommodation unit on their site at Bendrigg Lodge, which you can read about here.
But the team does much more than just helping out around the Lodge; they regularly hold fundraisers instore and even embark on challenging tasks in order to raise money for the charity.
Last summer on behalf of White Stuff, vet student Phil McKean completed the gruelling ‘Total Warrior’ course raising funds for Bendrigg, while other staff from the shop supported him and the charity by marshalling the race.
Phil said about the experience:
“It was by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but one of the most rewarding. I managed to raise £263 for Bendrigg, and I couldn’t have done it without the help from the staff at White Stuff”.
The staff themselves have also braced the adventurous side of fundraising, with two of the shops product advisors, Sarah and Sam, completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge back in October 2015, raising an amazing £455. This was then matched by the Foundation, bringing the total to £910.
Manager Emma also ran across 10 of the Lake District’s highest peaks in just 24 hours back in June 2014:
“I travelled over 73km, crossing mountains, streams and bogs, ran in the dark and made it back by 1am! The route covered 5,600m of ascent and included climbing Helvellyn, Scafell and Skiddaw to name just a dfew of the peaks. It was incredible challenging. My poor body!”
Despite the difficulty of the challenge, she says, “it was definitely worth it though – Bendrigg is a fantastic charity who are dedicated to every individual who goes there. They are a very inspirational charity and I feel privileged to be helping raise funds for such a worthy cause.”
Emma managed to raise £442 for Bendrigg, nearly double her target.
Not all the staff at the Kendal shop are able to go to such lengths for charity but they still contribute as often as they can – whether it’s the Cross Bay Walk, knitting a quilt or volunteering at the Lodge.
Bendrigg’s Fundraising and Marketing Officer Sarah Garman told me how much the Trust appreciates White Stuff’s work and support: “White Stuff have raised over £14,500 since starting to support us, and this has had a huge impact on Bendrigg. The funds go towards our core costs which are often the hardest costs to fundraise for. This can include heating, lighting, replacement of equipment, staff costs and so on.
“On average this has meant that donations from White Stuff annually have been around £4,500 – this is around 5% of our annual core cost required – an amazing amount!
“White Stuff are one of just a few corporate partners who support us, but by far donate the most to Bendrigg.”
The Kendal store’s Deputy Manager Joanne Addison says,
“the next step is to to improve on our Donor Gold Award. The one we currently have is for making between £10,001 and £25,000, so the next step would be to reach the Platinum Award of £25,000 and over, which we are most certainly keen to do.”
And with the incredible amount they’ve managed to raise already, it seems like they’ll make it!