When a couple of clients seeking financial advice from Ian Sanderson told them their story and involvement with Daisy Chain, Ian was sold.

One of the founders of Finance First, Ian found the whole story of Daisy Chain and his clients’ involvement with the charity enthralling, “I knew straight away this was something I and the company wanted to get involved in too,” says Ian.

“At that time, I had no idea what autism was but when they told me their story, how difficult it was to get support and how important Daisy Chain was to them, I could tell it was a charity worth supporting. We were then based on Norton High Street so the farm was close by therefore it felt like a natural fit.”

Now, a decade and a move to Middlesbrough premises later, he and the company are still supporting Daisy Chain, “It’s an amazing charity and an amazing place. The one thing that initially struck me was the energy of the people who work there and that has never changed over the 15 years since the charity was set up by Lesley. The moment you walk through the gates you can feel that energy.”

Through the Openworks Foundation of which Finance First is a member, the company helped to fund Daisy Chain’s IT suite and Ian makes it his mission to attend a number of fundraising events throughout the year.

Ian explains, “Giving back is really important to me, it’s integral to our business philosophy.

After learning his trade in a bank and rising to become a financial adviser, Ian set up his own business in 1999 – it currently has four directors and a total of eight staff, “We have grown a very successful business helping families to plan their finances, buy their houses and ensure their finances work for their future. We have longstanding clients because once people come to us they don’t leave. 

“I think if you have made a success of business then you should give back to the community and support good causes to help people. It’s one of the responsibilities of success.”

Over the years, Ian has watched Daisy Chain grow from just a farm with a farmhouse to what it is today with the Day Centre, the gardens, play areas, sensory rooms and over 100 animals. “The work and commitment it has taken over the years to make that happen has been incredible,” Ian reflects.

“It’s vital that families who are affected by autism have somewhere to go where they can relax and not feel people might judge or stare if their child gets upset for some reason. It is easy for people to judge, you see it all the time. Before I knew about autism I am sure I was the same, so the awareness raising that Daisy Chain does is extremely important. People do need to understand how hard it can be for families coping with autism and learn to be supportive rather than add to their burden, making them feel unwelcome in public places.

“Also, it is good to see how the charity has developed to support older children and young adults. That support helps them grow and gain coping mechanisms for the wider world. You can see how beneficial it is when young people do get the right help and support to grow their self-esteem and confidence.

“Daisy Chain is a very special place where Lesley’s vision and legacy lives on and as long as it is there, I will continue to support it and the work it does.”