Bridget Stadden talks fundraising, working hard and inspirational people
Bridget Stadden is sitting at her desk in her office staring intensely at pictures of Mount Snowdon. “I’m engrossed, I didn’t realise there were five different routes we can take!” she exclaims excitably. Bridget is currently in the middle of organizing a charity walk for The Stroke Association’s 20th birthday celebrations. “It’s our staff tribute, we’re doing it dressed as The Sound of Music, we’re calling it The Hills are Alive Tour,” she laughs infectiously.
For the past 16 years, Bridget has been a fundraiser and is now The Stroke Association’s Regional Fundraising Manager for Wales. “It wasn’t ever an ambition of mine. When I was thinking about a career in school, I wanted to be an air hostess” she laughs, “but my Father deterred me from doing it because he said it was like being a glorified waitress”.
“Really I drifted into fundraising because I had two small children and I did loads of little jobs to fit in around them”. Bridget spent 11 years with the NSPCC and a further four with cancer charity Tenovus before being made redundant. When she saw a job advertising a position with The Stroke Association, Bridget was intrigued. “If I’m totally honest I had never realised that there was a Stroke Association. For me that was part of the challenge; I read the job description and I thought oh this sounds really exciting. I had had my fingers crossed thinking, please, I hope I get this job.”
Since successfully joining the team a year and a half ago, Bridget has been working toward making The Stroke Association become a more established charity. Before working for the charity, Bridget sadly lost her Mother to a stroke and like many others, didn’t know of The Stroke Association. “When she died I didn’t give the money that we raised at the funeral to Stroke, we gave it to a cancer charity, probably because I wasn’t aware they existed”.
No Ordinary Job
After working as a fundraiser for most of her professional career it could be safe to assume that The Stroke Association offered Bridget more of the same. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this is no ordinary nine to five job. “There is no average day and that’s why I love it,” smiles Bridget. “In all my other jobs I spent most of the time filling in spread sheets but now, no day is the same, there is no typical day”. Clearly passionate about her work, Bridget’s face lights up. “All I can say is, most days I start off in the office and then where I go from there, who knows? I don’t know where it will take me! It’s just brilliant. It’s nice to be 46 and say that about your job!”
From having to come up with ideas for new events to organizing fundraising days or even writing reports for newspapers, Bridget’s work comes with the inevitable pressures of deadlines. “It is stressful but I think if I didn’t have stress I wouldn’t do anything, my colleague Seren always says to me, ‘Brig, when you start to panic, I’ll start to panic!’”
There are of course days when the job can become too much so Bridget likes to remind herself of why it is she is there. She momentarily becomes quite pensive and serious. “If ever I have a bad day, which isn’t very often, I go out and visit a recovery group. Clearly moved, her eyes well up as she continues. “It just makes you realise the recovery process is incredible. Stroke is not a terminal disease, you can recover and we’re the people to help do it”.
The job does mean that Bridget meets a lot of the people the charity helps. “I once met a volunteer and he was 26, and you would never have known, he said to me, ‘oh I had a stroke two years ago and I’m desperate to get back into work and that’s why I’m volunteering’. He was a real inspiration and I think now, without us he might not be in that position”.
Smiling again, Bridget continues. “That is my inspiration really; never a day goes by when something doesn’t take my breath away”.
Looking to the Future
Looking ahead Bridget is optimistic. “I just want to continue to get the best deal for stroke survivors by pushing stroke to the front of the agenda with politicians and the public”. Luckily for The Stroke Association, Bridget has no plans in fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming an airhostess anytime soon. “I’ve always enjoyed my work and I cannot imagine ever doing anything else now. I don’t know where former fundraisers go; I imagine it’s some sort of scrap yard they send them to! It’s like being a nun, I reckon, you cannot do anything else, you’ll always be a fundraiser”.