DACT - The charity that lives up to its motto: For the people, by the people

The DACT mobility shop in New Street Daventry
The DACT mobility shop in New Street Daventry

For the people, by the people – as DACT’s motto goes.

The more time you spend with the charity’s volunteers and clients, the more you come to realise how true the statement rings.

DACT won The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

DACT won The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Read last week's feature on DACT here.

Take Edna Austin for example. She’s 96 years old and helped DACT’s chief executive Rob Kinning find a suitable site for the mobility shop 17 years ago.

“If I can help somebody and dedicate myself to help other people then I do,” said Mrs Austin, making her a more than ideal candidate for DACT volunteering.

She spoke highly of both Rob and Kathy Jones, who was the mobility shop’s first manager.

Rob Kinning has encouraged many people to join over the years

Rob Kinning has encouraged many people to join over the years

“We couldn’t have had a better boss than Kathy,” she said.

“She is an absolute wonderful friend. The mobility shop would’ve been nothing like it is without Kathy.

“The atmosphere was so friendly and that depended on the person you put in charge.”

And there it is again; for the people by the people.

Mrs Austin, who moved to Daventry in the 1970s, was previously the Daventry Senior Citizens Club’s secretary.

“It depends on the person who is in the top seat as to how your club progresses and carries on,” she said.

It’s telling that Mrs Austin should refer specifically to Kathy and Rob because they set the example for DACT from the day it was founded in 1993, and the day the mobility shop opened in 2000.

When you meet and speak with Rob you get a sense of his friendly, good natured and caring personality which has rubbed off on the people he has encouraged to join DACT throughout the years.

One of the volunteer drivers on the roster is 79-year-old Graham Whiteley, who joined so he could put something back into Daventry after customers at his Sheaf Street opticians had given him so much over the years.

As a volunteer driver he gets to spend a lot of time with the service users, and close bonds are formed between the two.

He explains that people will call DACT and specifically request certain drivers to pick them up.

One person who Graham became close with was Alan, a part Australian, English and Scottish man who was blind.

As a result of his condition he had to visit Moorfields Eye Hospital in London every six weeks, before switching doctors to one near Coventry.

The pair became friends by virtue of spending so many hours together on the long drives.

Alan would take Graham and his wife to lunch regularly, always insisting on paying the bill.

Sadly he died unexpectedly before the two were due to go out for a meal to celebrate Graham’s wife’s birthday.

After finding out plans for Alan’s funeral were minimal, Graham wrote a eulogy and read it at the ceremony.

Graham’s story is yet another example of the care DACT volunteers afford to the people they meet along the way.

Their kind-heartedness and willingness to go the extra mile – quite literally – is what makes the charity special, is what earned them the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and is what makes their motto so fitting.