TWO former Northwich trustees of a charity advancing the physical education of young people have been found responsible of serious misconduct after paying £1 million of charitable funds to their own companies.

The Charity Commission has permanently removed Matthew Dimbylow, a former Paralympian from Sandiway, as a trustee of Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It, while his wife Emma Dimbylow has signed an undertaking not to act as a trustee again.

Of £6 million they raised through a scratch card lottery for the charity, only £300,000 went towards charitable purposes.

The regulator took legal action to secure the return of misapplied charitable funds after the Dimbylows ‘abused the trust that was placed in them as trustees’.

Matt Dimbylow represented the GB seven-a-side football team in the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics and was a Paralympic World Cup medal-winner.

He also became the chairman of Northwich-based Cheshire Dragons Running Club in 2021.

The Charity Commission said both Matt and Emma Dimbylow employed a commercial lottery company to run a scratch card lottery for Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It between 2011 and 2014, raising a considerable amount of money.

The Commission opened an investigation in 2017, following concerns about the proportion of funds that it had spent on fundraising.

This inquiry found the lottery raised more than £6 million, yet the costs of generating this return, including via payments to the lottery organiser, amounted to £4.2 million.

Of the remainder, £1 million was passed to three different companies run by the couple and from which they profited personally.

Only £300,000 went to charitable purposes that were unconnected with the Dimbylows.

The inquiry has concluded the two former trustees mismanaged and misapplied the charity’s funds and are responsible for serious mismanagement and/or misconduct.

The commission issued a claim in the High Court to recover the funds misapplied by the Dimbylows to their own companies, which they settled on September 12, 2019.

The charity’s remaining trustee, who was appointed after the serious misconduct and mismanagement took place, is in the process of winding up the charity.

Amy Spiller, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, said: The public expects trustees to ensure charitable funds are always carefully managed in the best interests of their charity and the cause they serve, in this case supporting children and disabled people with sport.

“Instead, the Dimbylows abused the trust that was placed in them as trustees.

“It is right that we took action to recover misapplied charitable funds that went to the former trustees’ own companies and acted to ensure those responsible cannot become trustees again.

“We hope this sends a powerful message to others who may be tempted to use charity in this way.”

The Guardian has contacted Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It for comment.