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Fundraising brings company ‘happiness in spades’

Here, James Stevens, Founder and CEO of Cambridge Commodities, which provides nutritional ingredients across a variety of industries, talks about the positive impact that fundraising has had on his staff.   

James, who founded his company working out of his parents’ spare bedroom at just 21 years of age, has since grown the company to the size it is today – with a global workforce of 170 staff, with offices in Ely, Sacramento and the Netherlands. 

The company, however, didn’t start raising money for charity until its 20th year.

“I really wanted to raise £20,000 for charity in our 20th year so started looking for a charity. Somebody wrote down Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust and it just stood out. It’s the perfect charity for a business of our location and size and it touches the hearts of every single member of staff. We all know someone who has either been admitted to the hospital or visited somebody there. All my children were born in the Rosie.” 

Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT) is the official charity for Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals, and money raised by our supporters help make the hospitals even better by funding cutting-edge research, innovations and high-tech equipment, above and beyond what the NHS is able to provide. 

One of the reasons for picking ACT as its charity was to be able to see the direct impact of all their fundraising efforts, James says – something that has happened on several occasions already with different members of staff, including Emily, the firm’s EU Account Manager, whose two-year-old Ayda was born in the Rosie just after Christmas. 

Emily had helped other members of staff to wrap Christmas presents which ACT funded to be distributed to patients on Christmas Day. Emily, who had been booked to have a C-Section on New Years’ Eve, went into labour early and was admitted to the Rosie on Christmas Eve. 

“I was in hospital on Christmas Day waiting to give birth so I received one of the Christmas presents that ACT had funded; some hand cream and body lotion, which was a really thoughtful present. Something like that just makes you feel supported and reassured that people are thinking of you and trying to make you feel better about being in hospital over Christmas, when you don’t want to be.” 

Another member of staff to see the direct impact of their fundraising efforts was Natalie Scott Paul, the firm’s Head of Payroll, who organises the Annual Christmas Ball with finance manager Carly Purell.  

“As one of our things we wanted to do, staff chose to pay the salary of a play therapist. That year my daughter was admitted to Addenbrooke’s, and the play therapist came to see her while she was waiting to be seen. I texted everyone at work and said, ‘we did that!’” 

Staff have taken part in, or organised, a range of activities or events – from wrapping Christmas presents for patients to competing in the Cambridge Half Marathon to handing out daffodils to hospital staff at Easter.  

“We were handing out daffodils to staff as they were leaving work for the day,” James said, “and to see the smiles on their exhausted faces, you cannot describe how good that feels. To see them all leaving and to be able to say thank you is amazing. I think we all had a little cry when we got home that day.” 

The firm has organised other events themselves – from cake bakes to a cyclathon (24 hours of cycling); a Walking Challenge where staff had to walk the equivalent in miles from their office in Ely to their office in Sacramento (over 5,000 miles which they managed to more than double) as well as their annual Christmas Ball, which after five years is soon expected to top half a million pounds raised. 

ACT’s Corporate Partnerships Manager Natasha Robertson said companies who would like to join forces with the charity can get involved in a number of different ways, from making one-off donations to choosing ACT as its Charity of the Year. 

“Most of the companies that we work with have a connection with the hospitals and find fundraising a really worthwhile, bonding experience. Employees can organise their own fundraising events or take part in some of the fun events that we organise throughout the year, including the Dragon Boat Race and the Cambridge Half Marathon.” 

“We have a diverse range of companies across sectors that are fundraising on our behalf and as we continue to grow.” 

As for James, he says fundraising gives his staff an enormous sense of pride as well as helps him get to know employees in areas of the business he wouldn’t normally interact with. It also helps with recruitment. 

“We have people saying they chose us as an employer because we had a relationship with a charity.” 

For any company thinking of becoming a corporate supporter for ACT, James has this to say, “You just need to find the time to do it but that time is paid back in spades through the happiness of your staff.” 

Find out more about our corporate partnerships here. If your company is able to support ACT and is looking to make a real difference, please email Natasha at:

Click here to find out more about fundraising for the hospital.