Case Study

Executive coaching to reinvigorate Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal

The Grand Appeal is the only charity raising funds exclusively for the Bristol Children’s Hospital, whose expenditure exceeds NHS provision. LeaderSpace provided individual coaching programmes for the Appeal’s senior leaders, which reinvigorated and raised the charity’s ambitions and helped them to achieve unprecedented revenue growth.


Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal is a small but energetic charity created and supported by Nick Park and Aardman Animations. Although already successful, the Appeal’s Director Nicola Masters and her team faced the continuing challenge of raising funds to bridge the gap in the hospital’s annual expenditure.

Nicola called upon LeaderSpace’s Jane Boston to help her and her team work more effectively in order to improve the charity’s income and build on its past achievements.

The approach we took

Jane began coaching the senior managers with the aim of helping them to approach their many challenges and responsibilities more pragmatically. Jane used – and even created – a variety of coaching approaches tailored to each individual manager. They soon began to work more efficiently and effectively, and Nicola noticed that their newfound energy was having a massive positive impact on the wider team.

Jane went on to coach Nicola, and introduce the LeaderSpace leadership qualities: ‘Authentic, Responsible and Courageous’. These qualities resonated with Nicola, so they used them as a means of working through some of the decisions she was facing at the time. Nicola soon realised she was overwhelmed with the responsibility she felt for her team, the charity’s trustees and the charity’s fundraising objectives.

The challenge for Nicola, when she first met Jane, was being truly Courageous. Nicola says, “The aspirations were there, but not the courage to make them reality. The charity sector isn’t a brave world. The financial climate is tough at the moment, the sector is shrinking and we’re not one of the huge ‘super-charities’ with a strong, diverse support base. But if you’re not Courageous, you stand still; you become lost in a mire of greyness. The coaching gave me permission to be Courageous.”

Coaching enabled Nicola to give herself ‘permission to act differently’ and focus on developing the charity. Since then, she says, the ARC qualities – or the ‘mighty three’ as she calls them – have always informed the decisions and actions she and her team have taken.

Nicola – and with her, the whole team – became re-energised, and developed the courage to create more ambitious targets for individuals and the organisation as a whole.

I found your coaching challenging, thought-provoking and stimulating. It enabled me to overcome barriers – personal and external – to achieve my goals and, importantly, the coaching motivated me, reinforced positive thoughts and gave me ‘permission’ to act.
Nicola Masters, Director, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal
Your work has helped to improve overall performance, increase individual and group productivity, and ultimately deliver significant revenue to the Appeal. I would highly recommend you to any organisation.
Nicola Masters, Director, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal

The impact we had

Coaching helped Nicola and her team to work more creatively, smartly and with greater focus, ambition and energy. The first outward reflection of this was the transformation of their offices from a space littered with boxes to a clutter-free working environment. Subsequently, over a two-year period, the team has trebled in size and has expanded into additional office space.


In 2012, Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal beat much larger national charities to win the highly coveted Fundraising Team of the Year award.

Most importantly, there has been a paradigm shift in the way the charity operates, and this has led to an impressive increase in income.

In the year that followed the core coaching, the charity’s income rose by 45%. Fundraising activity has now moved from smaller initiatives to large-scale programmes, such as the much-loved Gromit Unleashed programme.

This milestone project involved 80 uniquely decorated 5ft-high sculptures of Aardman’s famous dog, Gromit, placed in a trail around Bristol and the surrounding region during the summer of 2013. In addition to drawing attention to and raising funds for the Appeal, the sculptures – which attracted over 200,000 visitors – also benefited the area’s wider economy.

The campaign attracted national and regional media coverage, and has lifted awareness of the charity exponentially. The campaign culminated in an auction of the Gromit sculptures. This hoped to raise £1 million but actually brought in £2.3 million, which outstripped any other single project in the charity’s history.