How Clitheroe helped Danny Stuttard turn his life around

Danny Stuttard has fulfilled childhood dreams and turned his life around by lending his time to Clitheroe Football Club.

The 57-year-old was struggling with depression when he answered a call for volunteers to assist on matchdays at the EcoGiants Stadium.

Stuttard was reluctant to help at first but now credits the club, and the community around it, for helping him get back on his feet.

“I got involved five years ago when my partner saw a post on Facebook,” he said.

“At that particular time in my life, I had really bad depression and I needed a purpose

“I went begrudgingly and started doing stewarding on matchdays, but the chair and her husband left within seven months, and I ended up picking up a few roles.

“I asked if I could help doing the pitch because as a kid, I always wanted to put the stripes on football pitches.

“I remember watching the FA Cup final when I was kid and looking at the Wembley pitch and thinking ‘Oh my god’.

“So, when the chair told me she was leaving, they asked if I would help them by doing it and that’s how it happened.”

Alongside his work as the groundsman, Blackburn-born Stuttard is also the catering manager, kit man and helps run the club shop.

He is part of a dedicated team of volunteers and regularly contributes over 40 hours a week to helping the Blues keep going.

Stuttard added: “It’s a two-way thing; the club has helped me, and I know I've helped the club.

“I've got a sense of purpose, and it has helped my life in general. Make no mistake about it, if it hadn't been for this football club, I possibly would not be here.

“The club has progressed so much since I have been volunteering and the best thing to happen to me has been the club’s success because it has helped me.

“Everything snowballed for me, and once I got my confidence back, I thought, I am pretty good at catering, because I used to be a chef.

“They gave me a chance and have trusted me. We have built it up from taking around £200 a game to taking well over £1000 every single game by making it a quality matchday experience at a reasonable price.”

Stuttard is a shining example of how important it is for people to give their time to keep their local football clubs going and opportunities at non-league outfits across the country can be accessed using the Pitching In Volunteer Hub.

Clitheroe have seen their attendances increase year on year as the club have climbed the table, reaching the Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One West play-offs for the first time in 19 years last season.

“Clitheroe is enjoying a bit of a golden era, we have a few volunteers that are around my age and a few that are younger who have really helped us with things like social media which is massive,” he said.

“We also have an 84-year-old called Jim who comes down and helps me. The big thing is that we are all in it together.

“Football is full of real people and clubs need volunteers. I didn’t believe that this kind of stuff would happen at non-league football, but it is just the business.”

Find volunteering opportunities at your local club by visiting https://pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk/.

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