Catching up with ‘super fundraiser’ Iain

31 January 2020

When Iain McGeachin was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia, the diagnosis kick-started an amazing fundraising journey. In order to raise money to fund research into the rare disease Iain took on a series of sponsored walks, culminating in a 500-mile walk down the Mediterranean coast of Spain in 2016 to raise money for Ataxia UK. A sociable man, Iain turned to the Couchsurfing community for help with accommodation, and shared many a memorable meal with his hosts. When FareShare food partner Honest Crust ran a competition asking people to tell them how food brings people together Iain entered his story – and duly won!

It was this that prompted him to find out more about FareShare. Iain explains:  “While researching Honest Crust, I became more aware of FareShare. I was already slightly aware of FareShare at that point – and again via my travels. But only slightly: I also lived in Paris in the past, and in France it is a legal obligation for supermarkets to donate unused food to local charities. Not so in the UK, where I had previously learned that this was a voluntary arrangement – and FareShare was at the heart of this.”

Iain read up on a charity that used FareShare food to provide restaurant quality meals to older and vulnerable people. “To enjoy the food, the people would have to visit the community centre where it was being prepared. By addressing the problem of food waste FareShare were providing an answer to the problem of social isolation. Two birds, one stone – very clever!”

So how did that initial interest in FareShare end up with Iain becoming a fully paid up FareShare fundraiser? Well, by 2017 Iain was looking to raise money for a non-medical charity, and, despite not living anywhere near a depot, FareShare was the obvious choice. ”My nearest FareShare Regional Centre is in Glasgow – nearly 40 miles away!”

“FareShare Glasgow actually services local charities in the south-west of Scotland too though. And, as I live by the main road in Maybole, I actually see the FareShare Glasgow van passing my door each week, as it distributes surplus food to local charities nearby.”

This year, Iain will again be taking part in the Glasgow Kiltwalk again, this time to raise money for FareShare. However, as the event was so much fun last year, he’ll also be taking part in the Edinburgh Kiltwalk too. Iain uses a wheelchair and he will be pushed in both by a friend who is flying in from Portugal just to help.

But Iain’s fundraising ambitions don’t stop there. In 2018 Iain set up #ataxiabookfairy – leaving brand new books in public places to raise money for ataxia research and to raise awareness of the disease. Now, when publishers donate books – Iain gives some away and packages the rest up in boxes, where they’re gratefully received by volunteers in FareShare’s warehouses.

So what, in Iain’s opinion, is the best thing about volunteering as a fundraiser?

“By volunteering you learn a lot. You learn about the charity itself; about the people that the charity helps; and, most importantly, you learn about yourself.

“It’s also a huge boost to the volunteer’s own self esteem. You learn some rather positive things about yourself too. And you meet people, who almost universally, and genuinely, boost your sense of self. That your contribution to the welfare of others can be pretty vital.

“And positivity works by osmosis. Being surrounded by very positive people soon rubs off on the fundraiser too. But, more than anything else, you learn that fundraising is fun. So, prepare to have a huge smile on your face as you watch your self-esteem climb into the stratosphere.”