How to give it: Andy Wood

Andy Wood, 52, has been chief executive of the Suffolk-based brewer Adnams since 2010. He joined the company in 1994 from the insurer Norwich Union. He is chairman of Norcas, an East Anglian drug, alcohol and gambling harm-reduction charity.

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What was the first charity you supported?

It was a breast cancer charity. I lost my mother in 1986 to that dreadful disease. I contributed through a “give as you earn” scheme with my employer at that time.

Which is the cause closest to you?

I am chairman of Norcas, a charity that does a lot of important work. I’m also a trustee of the Adnams plc charitable trust and both of these do tremendous work and are very dear to my heart.

What do you get out of your personal giving?

I get a sense of “there but for the grace of God goes I”. I am in a privileged position, I have a job, I’m relatively well-paid, and it’s important to put something back.

Does the drinks business have a responsibility to take an active role in supporting charities that are addiction-related?

Yes it does. At Adnams we use the slogan “You can have too much of a good thing”. I think it has engaged our consumers and it has certainly not hurt us commercially in any way.

I think other companies are picking up on this now. Initiatives such as Drinkaware [a charity funded by the drinks industry to promote sensible drinking habits] have gone some way and I think ithat’s a positive move in the right direction.

Should health-related charitable projects take priority over others?

I don’t think that is necessarily true. I think that could be polarising and there are many, many deserving causes out there. Health is one that’s very visible but it’s for individuals to choose where they put their money.

Do you ask your employees to give to charity?

We don’t ask but a number of them do sponsored walks, they do the Adnams 10km run and also do things in their private lives. And often they contribute those monies to the Adnams charitable trust. So, while we don’t ask directly, our employees contribute to the work the charity does.

How do you make sure the money you give to charity is used effectively?

You can look at the annual reports of charities and interpret those, and I check the [cash] reserves that charities have, but I also look for statements about how much of the pound donated goes to the cause. I think that is critically important.

Is there anything you would like to change about our attitude to charitable giving in the UK?

I think by and large we are a relatively charitable society. I would like to see more of it. I don’t think there’s anything structurally wrong but if everyone who was able to gave a few pence each day the charitable sector would be in a much stronger place.

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