DAVE Woods is currently training for the Swindon Half Marathon, and aims to raise £1,000 for Swindon 105.5.

It’s a mark of his fervent belief in the value of community radio.

“Community broadcasting is key,” he said. “It can tell stories that mainstream media, at least the broadcast elements, don’t have time for.

“They can give about three minutes to a story but community radio can give as much time as it wants. It can tell people’s stories more, and be a part of the community, and here at 105.5 it definitely does that.

“It gives people a voice, and that’s one thing that’s important to local communities.

“People have a chance to tell their stories, and in politics and current affairs you can tell a story a lot more. You can get under the cover of a story.

“It’s often said about Swindon that there’s nothing going on, but if you scratch the surface there’s so much going on – if you give time to it, tell people’s stories, tackle the council in what they’re doing, the various elements of opposition, complaints.

“You give people the chance to air their views and let other people know what’s going on as well.

“We often have people contacting us, either at the station or me personally. I’ve been out shopping and people who know I’m here at the station will come up to me and say: ‘Did you know about..?’

“I never say I do an interview; I always say I chat to people, and by talking to them and chatting to them you can get more out of someone.

“There are often times when people may not fully want to tell you the story at first, but if you talk to them they open up more.”

Dave specialises in news and current affairs, and his in-depth coverage of the controversy surrounding the future of Lydiard House and Park saw Swindon 105.5 take a finalist’s accolade at the 2016 New York Festivals’ International Radio Program Awards.

It was a first for British community radio station, as was making a shortlist in the Radio Academy Radio Production Awards on this side of the Atlantic two years earlier.

That was for another programme made by Dave, covering the year’s European Elections. Dave visited the European Parliament and interviewed MEPs and officials.

The shortlist for the News Producer of the Year award included Radio 4’s Today programme and the producer of Jeremy Vine’s programme on Radio 2.

Dave was delighted and proud that Swindon 105.5 found itself up against such heavy mainstream competition.

“It signified that community radio can and does produce great broadcast programmes. It showed that people who have a passion can produce quality programmes that people like to listen to.”

Dave, who lives in Gorse Hill, is originally from Lymington in the New Forest.

“Even when I was at school, I always kept up to date with news and current affairs. I remember listening to the radio in my room at night, listening to the news.”

On leaving school he began what would be a 20-year stint in catering, mainly in restaurants. He came to Swindon nearly 30 years ago to work at what was then the De Vere Hotel as a senior sommelier, although he later went into administration work.

Soon after coming to the town he began volunteering for hospital radio, working at the old Princess Margaret Hospital and the RAF hospital in Wroughton.

“There was probably something in the Adver, saying hospital radio was looking for volunteers, and I thought, ‘Do you know what? I’ll give it a go.’

“I gave it a go and enjoyed it.”

Connections made as a volunteer led to a four years of employment as a broadcast assistant at what was then BBC Wiltshire Sound.

Dave joined Swindon 105.5 in 2008, but has now decided to take a backroom role because of the time constraints of his new full-time job as a trading administrator with WH Smith.

Listeners need not worry that they won’t hear from him again, though.

His last show will be on Wednesday, but on Thursday he’ll be covering the local elections.

“This is my eighth election in Swindon and I’m sure I’ll continue to do election coverage. They seem to roll me out every year!

“I also help out on the technical side behind the scenes. I help schedule programming. I’ll still be doing that and I’m sure there will be times when I pop up on air as well.

“There are outside broadcasts that the station does, so I’ll get involved with that, and I’m sure I’ll be chatting to people.

“Perhaps it’s a sabbatical more than coming off air. I’m sure that if the team want me for something and I’m free, I’ll be there with the mic in hand to do what’s needed. It’s definitely not an end.

“I’ll be tackling the councillors still, and asking the difficult questions.”