Patrick Chaplin: Darts History

Darting For Charity - Christmas & All Year Round

‘The St. Dunstan Four – cartoon by Harlequin 1946’.

A look back at the first post-war Christmas

Sixty-four years ago people in Britain were enjoying their first Christmas of peace for six years.

During the war darts players - including the famous News of the World team of Dart Champions - had between them raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the Red Cross and other national and local charities. In December 1945 in an open letter to readers of one darts newspaper, the Honorary Leagues Organiser for St. Dunstan’s (a charity for the war-blinded), Mr. F. Culverhouse, thanked darters for their unselfishness and for all their fund-raising efforts to date.

“In the new year,” he wrote, “let us resolve to continue the good work in aid of the War Blinded to help bring them light in their darkness. The Christmas period will be a time when most clubs are without a fixture and the hockey will have the noisy atmosphere, so different from the strict order of competitive games. During this period let us reflect a moment on how playing for charities has improved the game. Exhibition matches have been played attracting hundreds of spectators. Leagues have adopted sounder and firmer principles and rules evolved to better the game in general.”

Mr. Culverhouse suggested a resolution for the New Year, “To further improve the game, by club secretaries taking a keen interest in their work. The league officials by keeping close contact with the clubs and arriving at decisions with firm but friendly spirit. By players playing for the love of the game, thereby continuing the good work in aid of the war blinded…” (My italics.) Lots of good messages there.

Although Mr. Culverhouse was referring only to St. Dunstan’s the message is as clear in the 21st century as it was in the 20th. It seems that darters – more than perhaps participants in any other sport - have the drive, determination and the ability to continue to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds every year for charity – both locally and nationally.

Darters are renowned for their charity work and it is to be hoped that they will raise even more funds for good causes during 2009.

The St. Dunstan Four – cartoon by Harlequin 1946

© 2000 and 2008 Patrick Chaplin

(This article originally appeared on in 2000 and was updated for in 2008.)