The Malcolm Whales Foundation





The Malcolm Whales Foundation Patrons


We are very fortunate to be supported by the following Patrons:

Geoff Bonnett


My name is Geoff Bonnett and I am honoured to be asked to be the first Patron of the Malcolm Whales Foundation. I was a founder committee member when the Charity was formed and was instrumental in assisting both Damien and other committee members to establish the appropriate documentation and application to the register the Charity and I have remained a committee member since formation.


My involvement stems from my long standing friendship with Malcolm before his sad passing in 2008. Our joint interests were walking and squash which together kept our friendship sound for more years that I can remember. Most walks were long distance or up mountains. We virtually toured the country to complete challenges up hill and down dale. The photograph you see of us both was following the completion of the Lyke Wake Walk in Yorkshire in 1996. That was 44 miles of gruelling and arduous terrain from Ravenscar to Ostmotherly. That challenge came about because Malcolm and I were drinking in our local and he had recently comple his first Marathon. I told him that was a stroll compared to the Lyke Wake Walk which I had completed several times over earlier years. I told him he should man-up to a real challenge. At first he laughed about it but a few pints later and after more pressure he said ‘Right we are doing it’! Later that year we did it and eventually finished after some 18 hours of walking. Hardly able to draw breath he turned and said ‘You were right the London Marathon was a stroll in the park compared to this’. That was Malcolm - never one to duck a challenge and always wanting to rise to the task ahead!


I am now retired but still walk several miles most weeks and mostly on my own. In the last twelve months I have completed walks around Anglesey, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight. More appropriate to the Foundation, which you know focus’s on a Dorset section of the South West Coast Path, is that I have completed the whole 630 mile Coast Path walk on two occasions in 2010 and 2014 and coincided the completion of the second walk to cover a section from Weymouth to Osmington with Damien and the group.  When walking I often wear the Foundation t-shirts and when socialising I am equally proud to wear the polo shirts. What is more pleasing is then when questions are asked ‘Who is Malcolm Whales?’ as I have great pleasure in answering who he was and which then inevitably leads to stories that are recollected of the times we spent together.


Sadly, Malcolm’s passing means he could not join me on any of my walks in recent years but I know it would have thrilled him to be there and enjoy what I have enjoyed. Likewise, he cannot tell those stories either but I know that if he was with us he would equally take great delight in recalling some of the fun and laughter we generated and the challenges we met. One of our friendship ties was that we could regularly ridicule each other but we always smiled and enjoyed the banter. Malcolm was a winner and a fighter and losing did not rank in his vocabulary. Unfortunately, the one fight we all wanted him to win was lost but he can take comfort from the fact the he will never ever be forgotten – RIP old friend.   


Liz Whales


My name is Liz Whales and I am the widow of Malcolm Whales.  Malcolm, as previously stated, died far too young he had so much life to live - he was a big personality and active man.  He loved being a father and I know he would have adored being a Grandad.  I have 5 grandchildren, the second youngest Edward, in my arms in the photo.  


He adored challenge and thoroughly enjoyed working with young people. He took great pride and pleasure in coaching the local Rugby Colts, the team Damien played in, for a number of years.  It is therefore poignant that so many young people should over the years have achieved so much in his name.  Originally the charity was set up to fund research into cures for Bowel cancer, which was the cancer that killed him.  I love the fact that the charity has diversified into helping young people to recover from cancer and move forward in their lives.


Malcolm would have been so very proud of the imapct the charity has had in his name and like me, very moved by the bravery and strength demonstrated by the young people, this Foundation has been able to assist.



Andy Emery


My name is Andy Emery, 56 years and being asked to be a patron was a real honour, although someone did say don’t you have to be famous..

My involvement started last year as my son Jack is an Associate Trustee and he first went on the Dorset walk in 2015 in year ten when at Ely College.

Now we all in the past have given time and money to Charity, whether it is in the form of a walk, running or other ways, but to actually get involved on the inside is a different matter.

After losing my mother in 2005 to cancer I always said that I must do something, well time and other things got in the way and this was not done.

So in 2016 I signed up to go on the walk, doing two days… The impact of those two days really did get right to the heart. On the walk we had all walking abilities of Children, some fitter than others, but no one gave up, no one moaned and these guys and girls all gave me the motivation to help raise money.

The money is for the younger generation that have a life in front of them to fight for, a will power to see the fight fought and won and for them to enjoy life as others do. Alas this is not always the case, but we don’t discriminate where funding goes.

We are all volunteers giving our time, and the money goes directly to the cause, no admin etc.

So I send out details of the Foundation, post letters and knock on doors to get those aware of what we are doing, so I line up the ducks and the trustees sort the rest of the details needed for the walk.

I could say I am lucky, I am fit, (I do half marathons and muddy races, run every week), and so is my family, but one day we may need help for a child or Grandchild.

Andy Geoff and Dad

Ben Gibbs


I’m Ben, and I’m delighted to support the Malcolm Whales Foundation as a Patron.


I first came across the charity when Damien, the founder, came to ask my fellow governors and I at Ely College if he could take students away for the Dorset Walk during term time. Whilst this was a no-brainer for me, I enjoyed watching Damien persuade some of the more sceptical governors, explaining what students had got out of it in previous years. He was a truly passionate advocate of both his charity, and of the walk’s educational value for the children involved. Needless to say, he turned them around, but I too was hooked.


A couple of years later, in 2016, with some choppy water under the bridge, my daughter and I signed up for our first Whales Walk. So many things impressed me about the event, but what struck me most powerfully was watching some of the students overcome their own personal challenges and develop both as individuals and as friends with one another as the miles took their toll.


For the developmental impact of events like this on young people cannot be overestimated, especially where they are giving something back to people less fortunate than themselves. We’ve done the Walk twice now, and are signed up for our third in 2018. On both occasions, it really was a privilege to walk with these young fundraisers, and I gained a very healthy respect both for them, and for those who take part having battled cancer and who still carry the scars; physical and mental.


I’ve developed a very deep respect for Damien and all those involved in running the Foundation itself, as well as the work of the charities it supports. The very fact that my daughter I can get up, put our boots on, and tackle an event like this means, for me, that we are duty bound to support those who can’t, or who find it more difficult than we do. Likewise, I am unapologetic in pointing out this duty to others. So I am very much looking forward to getting more engaged in the Foundation as a Patron, and doing what I can to promote its work and interests.

Ben Gibbs

Chris Mathews


I am absolutely thrilled to become a patron of the Malcolm Whales Foundation.


A Charity that has already achieved so much in offering young people both an awareness and an opportunity to help those less fortunate than themselves.


The Dorset walk encompasses not only a great outdoor experience but a chance to get away from the social media bombardment that many of us have become far too occupied with.


Please join us...

Chris Mathews

Zoe Marley



I’m Zoe, and I am very excited to have been asked to be a Patron for the Malcolm Whales Foundation.


I am an ex student of Ely College, and it was there I came across the Foundation in 2012. I completed my first Dorset Walk in the pouring rain, not only whilst putting our tents up and walking, but also taking them down, but it didn’t stop me signing up for another year in 2014, and again in 2017. In 2012 I had the privilege of getting hands on involved with the Charity in the aspect of going to Addenbrookes Children’s Cancer Ward and giving them IPads. I came off the ward in a totally different mind set, at this point oblivious to the fact that four years later I was going to lose my dad to the disease.


I find myself looking at the Malcolm Whales Foundation in a different light than I do other Charities (I do a lot for Pancreatic Cancer UK), in the sense that it’s much more personal and community-giving. Yes, other charities may be bigger and more well known, but with TMWF, we get to see exactly where the money goes; for example, family action days or trips away for those suffering or recovering. For me, this makes the want and need to raise more money for them stronger, in order to see what else they can develop for our local community, as you never know when a loved one may be wanting their support. It is not only this knowing of where the money is going, but also the sense pride experienced by those who complete the physical and mental Dorset Walk challenge, that keeps people going back year after year, and personally I think that will be the case forevermore.


I’ve gained a large amount of respect towards Damien, and I take my hat off to him, for creating such an amazing Charity with fun and rewarding events to go alongside it, he is an inspiration. I’m excited to not only watch the Foundation grow but to be part the growth, and to hopefully help make each event bigger and better than the previous.


Verity Fretwell


Hello, my name is Verity Fretwell and I feel honoured to be asked to be a patron for the Malcolm Whales Foundation.


I currently work at Highfields school, previous to this I was a student at Ely College. This is where my journey with the charity began. In 2013 i signed up for my first ever walk, at this point I had heard a lot about the charity and after sitting in an assembly where they explained about the walk, I thought to myself how hard can it be. Well lets just say it was a walk to remember and I haven’t looked back.


In 2018 I got into running (not sure why) and signed myself up for my first ever half marathon. The training was going well but just felt that something was missing and maybe if I had a purpose to run for a charity then maybe it would keep my spirit going. On day 3 of the dorset walk that year I was talking to Jack Edge and that’s when I thought why don’t I raise money for The Malcolm Whales Foundation. Whilst having this conversation they mentioned a few times that the charity had a place for the London Marathon 2019, which is when i said that would be an amazing experience. That year I put my name into the ballot to run the marathon and come September 2018 I was so pleased to be selected to represent TMWF in the Marathon!


I have a lot of respect for the charity and the amount of people it helps, from the people participating to where the money raised goes. Im looking forward to see what this charity can bring and look forward to being part of the charity.

Verity patron Coe Patron

Jason Coe


It is a real honour for me to become a patron for the Malcolm Whales Foundation. My journey started 9 years ago, as a young NQT sat next to Damien on the long journey to Dorset from Ely. I have since shared in the immense pride and joy at seeing so many people challenge themselves on the Dorest walk.  Whilst this spectacle underpins the immense commitment and dedication of those involved in the Charity, there are a number of other events the charity organsies that continue to drive it forward, including the 12 hours of sport and other charitable days.


As a teacher the unique element for me is this charity is largely driven by the energy of young people. It is their drive and enthusiasm that continues to help the charity grow. I am in a unique position to help foster a culture where more individuals can contribute and further grow in their own journeys to young adults. This work and commitment from young people goes back into projects that support other young children, who’s lives have unfortunatley followed different paths due to circumstances outside of their control.


I admire the patrons and trustess commitments to the cause, their relentless focus and commitment to achieving something bigger and more valuable anyone alone could achieve is incredible.


As a patron, I hope that I am able to support the charity in developing future projects and support those already in place. The charities growth occurs due to the number of individuals willing to commit time and effort to raise money, or lend a hand with their skills and knowledge. I hope by sharing this message more people will be able to help the charity in its future aspirations!

Charlotte Fretwell


I first took part in the Dorset charity Walk in 2010 when I was a student at Ely college.  At this time, you had to earn your place on the walk, I remember working so hard to be able to go on the walk, but I think the PE teachers, not surprisingly doubted my ability. However, being quite a determined character I tried my hardest to change their minds and I did…

To this day I can still remember when I was given the letter. I was called out of class and handed the letter by Mr Whales (who at the time I found rather scary).

I was so excited to receive the letter inviting me on the walk, I remember talking about it all day.


Like a lot of teenagers, Year Ten and Eleven was a struggle for me, as well has having the pressures of exams, I also experienced some changes within my family which left me feeling in a very low place. I cannot explain how much the Dorset walk boosted my wellbeing at this time.


I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given to experience this walk at this time. I have now completed the walk five times. For me, as well as raising money for an amazing charity, it’s always so moving to see so many teenagers embracing this challenge. I normally plod along at the back of the group and I love encouraging the students along as well as hearing about their struggles and ambitions.


The charity walk along the Dorset coastline ticks all of the boxes for wellbeing, which are connect, be active, take notice, and keep learning. I find it pretty amazing how valuable the walk is not only for the student’s well-being but also for learning life skills, including experiencing camping.


My ambition in life has always been to help others, I also love planning events. I feel so proud that I can represent The Malcom Whales Foundation through local charity events in my community such as cake stalls, quiz nights and the occasional ball/disco. I also like to give others a purpose, I am fortunate enough to work in a small family run childcare business in which some of the children love helping to organise regular cake stalls for the charity. I feel proud to be able to promote the charity further as a patron and I am excited to get more involved.  

Charlotte Patron