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David McCandless

David McCandless

I joined the RAF in 1961 as an apprentice ‘engine fitter’ after turning my back on a life at sea as a Grimsby trawler radio operator after a ‘rough-seas’ trial in 1960. After a distinguished Service career I found love and married a local French girl in October 1966 and still happily married too. On return to the UK, I continued with challenging postings to fast-jet squadrons and I was commissioned in 1986 as an engineering officer. My highlight was being the project officer leading a 150-strong team of Service and civilian engineers of mixed disciplines in fitting out a 51 Squadron Nimrod aircraft for effective active service in the 1st Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield). I retired from the RAF in March 2000 after using my extensive database skills (my hobby) to take RAF Support Command through the millennium bug unscathed. I then pursued my hobby of designing Microsoft Access desktop/utility databases - as a business, something I still enjoy as McSoft(UK) at but now this business has become more my hobby and community road safety my passion, second only to my understanding family.

In 2009 I was recruited to form a Community Speedwatch team in my home town of St Ives, Cambridgeshire. Police resources were being cut back year on year and the kerbside team found itself approached by others who wanted help to address persistent speeding in their own villages. By 2014 me and many team members, were unable to convince Cambridgeshire Constabulary that we had the experience and potential to increase the scope of Speedwatch whilst kerbside to include reporting drivers that seriously threatened the safety of the community.

So in November 2014, with the Constabulary rejecting my vision, and not being able to meet the teams’ 1000 letters a month, I, along with many others, quit Speedwatch and set up Community Roadwatch (CRW) with an extended different scope, but emphatically not to replace Speedwatch. I was elected as its first Managing Director at the helm and the company have been helping and enabling others ever since without needing support or resource from the Constabulary except when dealing with criminal speeds or behaviour that cannot be dealt with properly by the public.

I relax by growing chillies in the greenhouse I bought on my retirement and flying my Flight Simulator after downloading the latest airports, aircraft or challenges. I socialise as a committee member of the local Road Safety Committee , the Huntingdonshire Federation of Small Businesses and Cromwell Probus Club. I also find time to enjoy my dispersed family and organise the popular Area Community Road Safety Dinners in July and December where kindred spirits gather to exchange speeding woes and stories of ‘the one that got away’.

Community Roadwatch (UK) CIC - addressing road safety in the local community

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the team promoting the wheelie bin sticker campaign

In August 2014 a small group of ex-Speedwatch volunteers found themselves – and the villages they served – with no area coordinator for their local Speedwatch scheme. Rather than abandon parishes to their fate and waste their 2000 kerbside sessions …