After university David Stevenson spent 16 years as a pilot in the Royal Air Force before training to become a teacher in 1971, the same year that he joined IWA. In 1973 he became secretary of The River Stour Trust and a founder committee member of IWA's Ipswich Branch a year later, becoming Branch Chairman from 1975 to 1979.
In the 1980s he became Eastern Region Chairman, Chairman of Navigation Committee, Deputy National Chairman and, from 1989 to 1994, IWA National Chairman, taking early retirement from teaching in 1991 to concentrate on the duties of National Chairman.
He was a member of Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Committee (1991-95), IWA's representative on European Boating Association (1991-98), Council Member of both the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Trust (1991-96) and Droitwich Canals Trust (1993-2000). Other achievements include 1995 - founder member of IWA's Leicestershire Branch; 1996 - founder member of Council, Inland Waterways International; 1998-2000 President, Inland Waterways International; 1999-2001 chairman IWA's East Midlands Region; 2001 - President, Foxton Inclined Plane Trust (FIPT), 2002 - President and Chairman, FIPT.
David was awarded the Cyril Styring Trophy in 2004.