DAVID Wray, the man behind the vast expansion of the Swindon Therapy Centre, is poised to step down as the charity’s chairman after 11 years at the helm.
David, whose wife and current centre manager Jackie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1989, joined the charity 20 years ago, after moving to Bishopstone.
The self-help group, which counted just 40 members, encountered financial difficulties and nearly went bankrupt when he was appointed chairman of trustees.
Under his leadership, the charity embarked on a major fundraising campaign.
By 2010, the operation was not only safe from the threat of closure but ready to move into larger premises at Bradbury House.
The Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis now counts 450 members, who benefit from access to a variety of therapies and activities to manage their symptoms, including physiotherapy, yoga, pilates and counselling.
“I took over the organisation because it was about to go bust,” said David, who also acts as chief executive for Voluntary Action Swindon.
“It was struggling financially. I personally did a lot of fundraising and we encouraged people to fundraise for us.
“When we got that sorted we started thinking about moving because we wanted to help more people.
“We moved to Bradbury House and since then the membership has increased by 10 times.
“We realised we were not helping nearly as many people as we could be.”
“It has been fantastic to get the new centre,” he said.
“It has enabled us to reach out to more people.
“Over the years we have raised our profile in Swindon and people know about us now.
“It’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t know we are there but we used to get it a lot in the early days.”
David will step down at the organisation’s AGM in November, but he will remain a trustee.
“I just wanted to give someone else a chance,” said the 59-year-old.
“But I’m not leaving and I will continue as a trustee and continue to be part of the centre.
“I am still going to do a lot of fundraising.”
MS affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.
As well as MS sufferers, the centre welcomes anyone with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s and ME.
To end his term on a high note, David will take part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100, a 100-mile cycle through the capital and Surrey on August 10 to raise funds for the centre.
To sponsor David go on http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DavidandJackieWray.