Social Impact

Volunteer Spotlight: Stafford Butt & Wooden Spoon

November 2023 – 2 min read

In this article, Stafford Butt, Managing Director, Head of EMEA Consumer, Residential & Secured Asset Finance, speaks about how through his work with Barings-supported charity Wooden Spoon, he combines his love of rugby with helping his local community.

Tell us about Wooden Spoon

Wooden Spoon is a children’s charity that funds life-changing projects across the U.K. and Ireland, supporting children and young people with disabilities or living in disadvantage. It’s a national charity operating on a strong local basis, with local regions run by volunteers. This means 100% of funds raised in a region are spent there.

Wooden Spoon was born out of the rugby community, where it maintains strong ties. In 1983, England came last in the international competition Five Nations after a defeat to Ireland. Five England supporters were in a Dublin bar and were presented with a wooden spoon, wrapped in an Irish scarf, on a silver platter. Upon their return from Dublin, they decided to hold a golf match to see who would have the honor of keeping the tongue-in-cheek gift. A local special needs school were looking to raise funds for a minibus so they used the golf day as an opportunity to raise funds for this project.

As a result, the Wooden Spoon charity was born and they have been supporting children with disabilities and disadvantage ever since, and over the last 40 years they have granted more than £31 million to more than 1,465 projects, helping 1.5 million children and young people.

stafford-butt-wooden-spoon-image1.jpgStafford Butt, Barings’ Managing Director, Head of EMEA Consumer, Residential & Secured Asset Finance, with the wooden spoon that led to the charity’s name

How long have you volunteered for and how did you get involved?

I got involved with the charity playing for their regional rugby side, which would hold a few pay-to-play games at local rugby club charity days. Those first games grew into playing for the Wooden Spoon National Vets side. In 2018, an event to remember the armistice of World War I, saw the vets side play in France against Compiègne RFC, which sowed the seed amongst a few of us from Essex to restate the Essex region of the charity. That resulted in me becoming the Treasurer for the Essex region.

To continue to play rugby with and against old friends, whilst simultaneously raising funds for disadvantaged children, is a real privilege.

“To play rugby with friends, while raising funds for disadvantaged children, is a real privilege.”

stafford-butt-wooden-spoon-image2.jpgThrough Wooden Spoon, Stafford Butt, right, combines two passions: rugby and giving back to his local community

Why did you get involved and how often do you volunteer?

I was brought up to appreciate what you have and support others where you can. Giving back via such a wonderful charity is a great way to do this.

As Essex Regional Treasurer, alongside my regional committee members, we aim to drive fundraising in the region and also identify/process applications for funds. So, this is regular volunteering on a monthly basis in my spare time.

Why is this cause close to your heart?

I see the charity as one that supports disadvantaged children with similar values that I try to live by—passion, integrity, teamwork and fun—and with a deep connection to a sport that has provided me with some great times, as well as a diverse and close group of friends. Merging a sport I love with helping children is a great combination.

Also seeing the rugby family come together to help disadvantaged children is really levelling and grounding.

What’s been the best part of your volunteering experience?

This comes in so many ways—seeing the impact the funds have on the local community and the children the underlying projects support; as well as working on fundraising. The fundraising side has seen me enter into some fundraising challenges that I don’t think I would have done without the “cause” driving me forward. For example, running an ultra-marathon and playing the longest game of rugby. And finally, I have also made so many new friends through giving my time.

What does it mean to you that Barings actively encourages teammates to volunteer?

Having an employer that encourages teammates to give back, both financially and with their time, signals that Barings is understanding and aware of the local community, especially those areas where we can help facilitate support and provide opportunities for others. I believe it is also crucial to attracting and retaining staff.

“Having an employer that encourages teammates to give back signals how aware Barings is of the support we can provide in our local communities.”

Any advice to those thinking about getting more involved in volunteering?

Find a cause that resonates with you and seek out ways to support it. If you are looking at completing a personal challenge, then look to raise money for a local charity—every little amount helps to change lives.

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