A chartered accountant of 45 years, former Bedford chairperson of 11 years, an OAM recipient, and contributor to numerous government and not-for-profit organisations, Colin Dunsford’s impact on Bedford and the wider SA community is an inspiration.
Raised in Peterborough in the State’s mid-north, Colin became the first member of his extended family to graduate university, completing Economics at Adelaide University. He soon after landed a role as a chartered accountant and quickly progressed to partnership while still in his 20s, with a professional career servicing numerous corporate, government and private clients in Australia and the US.
After establishing a stable career, and driven by a profound desire to give back to the community, Colin sought another challenge. Equipped with financial expertise and professional experience, Colin volunteered as a board member of various not-for-profit and government organisations.
“It all started when I was appointed a board member of the State Opera,’’ he says, which he clarifies was not for his own interest, having never attended a performance before! Colin would go on to contribute significantly to the arts sector in SA in roles as Chair of Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Convention Centre and Deputy Chair of Adelaide Festival of the Arts.
In 2004, Colin was informed of an upcoming vacancy in the role of Chair of the Board at Bedford. “Bedford was an organisation that I had always admired, and it had a strong reputation”, he recalls. Colin, seeking a new challenge and interested in the disability sector, jumped at the opportunity.
During his outstanding tenure as Chair, Colin implemented strategies to ensure the immediate and long-term financial security and success of the organisation. Colin was also pivotal in growing Bedford’s relationships with major government and private stakeholders. When reflecting on his time at Bedford, Colin observes, “I inherited a legacy at Bedford, and we did our bit to help continue that legacy.”
Stories of growth, achievement and personal transformation of clients at Bedford were always immensely rewarding for Colin. Reminiscing the numerous annual Graduation Ceremonies, he recalls, “The ceremony always gave me goosebumps - it was very touching. We were providing truly meaningful opportunities for people with disability.”
Colin deeply cherishes the enduring friendships he formed while at Bedford. One of those relationships was with Nathanial Edgerton, a skilled artist and long-standing Bedford client. Colin proudly displays one of Nathaniel’s pieces in his home (featuring Nathaniel’s favourite tractor) and has a spot on Nathaniel’s annual birthday party invite list. He is often reminded that he can borrow Nathaniel’s tractor whenever he wishes!
Colin’s significant service to the South Australian community was acknowledged with his appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013. He ultimately farewelled Bedford after a remarkable 11 years as Chair, though he continued serving the disability sector as a board member of the Neil Sasche Foundation and the Peter Couche Foundation.
He strongly advocates the involvement of professionals in similar roles, “You don’t necessarily have to have an understanding of the industry, but you have to appreciate the form of the business, be willing to learn on the job and do it for the right reasons.”
Now retired, Colin enjoys walking his dog, playing golf and continues to sit on a variety of foundations and committees that he feels passionate about. “Just enough to keep me busy and the brain active!”, he remarks with a chuckle.