Andrew Baker MBE BCAv
Awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours 2021, Andrew first began fundraising when, in September 2002 he and his mother Ann was involved in the launch of the Oxford Mail's original £15million fundraising campaign to build the specialist Oxford Children's Hospital, which opened in January 2007.
It was this appeal and his own personal motivation to give back to "thank" the childhood medical teams, which in January 2003, first drove Andy into wanting to raise funds as a pupil at St Birinus School in Didcot for the building of the children's hospital. Raising funds at school was his way to repay his debt of gratitude back to the Oxford doctors who cared, helped and treated him. The amazing hospital healthcare teams ultimately saved his life twice over, once at birth after he was looked after in the neonatal care unit in his first few days fighting for life after being born with a brain injury, and again aged 12 after enduring brain surgery.
Despite living daily life with a brain injury, Andrew now 33, fights strong against his disability which often leaves him suffering chronic fatigue, debilitating headaches, impaired cognitive function and mobility, but he continues undeterred to continue helping others in need - be it children's, health or disability causes or others requiring help and support.
Now, in over 19 years of tireless, dedicated and passionate fundraising through a catalogue events and the value of presents raised by his annual "Sleigh2Give" drive he has raised over £323,000 and continually rising for good causes across the county. And, all thanks to a team of volunteers and the Oxfordshire community of supporters who rally behind and get involved in his fundraising endeavours which continue to inspire!
Due to his sheer dedication, tireless and selfless giving back from his heart over the years, he has also been recognised at other levels including at nationally becoming an Ambassador in July 2019 for the British Citizen Awards after receiving a BCA medal of honour at the Palace of Westminster in July 2017 for voluntary and charitable service. The High Sheriff of Oxfordshire gave him a High Sheriff Award in March 2020 for outstanding voluntary work, and in 2021 being one of three finalists for the Outstanding Contribution to the Community Award in the Thames Valley Business and Community Awards.
"I have worked with Andrew on a couple of occasions, his passion and enthusiasm for what he does is incredible, it makes me very proud to say that on occasions I have helped to support Play2give and its huge efforts to support multiple communities. Andrew you do an amazing job and that's why I would recommend to everyone, if your looking for an Oxfordshire based charity there is no better than Play2Give." - Lee McCorrisken, Marketing Director at Jobsdiem
"Andrew is an inspiration to us all. From a very young age he has worked through so many personal challenges and continues to do so with a very positive approach. In addition to dealing with such challenges Andrew has been instrumental in raising thousands of pounds for the Oxford Children's Hospital during and post its capital campaign. Andrew is a very talented fundraiser with an ability to encourage and motivate others to support the cause." - Graham Brogden, former Head of Fundraising at Oxford Hospitals Charity
"I have worked with Andrew over many years and he is a real inspiration to me. He is tireless in his approach to raise funds for charities close to his heart. He is a genuinely nice person with a huge heart. He puts everything into every event or project he manages and never gives up." - Teresa Strike, Friend and former volunteer
Over the course of five years during his time at the school he lead and inspired the school's efforts in his fundraising crusade for the Oxford Children's Hospital which he also later inspired the sixth form, whilst studying for his A-Levels and Didcot Girls' School, to get on board. He raised nearly £15,000 combined with the two school communities.
The school along with Andrew's name is displayed on a glass plaque of recognition inside the hospital's atrium with hundreds of others involved in raising significant sums of money in the building capital appeal for the Oxford Children's Hospital, which was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh in November 2008.
"Andrew is an inspiring individual that has an admiring drive within. We first crossed paths at the British Citizen Awards in London and I was thrilled to have met such a motivational individual. Andrews personal achievements and accolades are nothing short of amazing and since meeting some of the other BCA holders I can definately say he is one of the most down to earth, humble people there is!" - Torron-Lee Dewar, Founder of The ADU Charity & BCA Medallist
"I have only known Andrew personally for a short time but I have been aware of his brilliant work and charity for quite a few years now. At Sobell House we have benefited recently from two generous donations from Play 2 Give. Andrew is one of those special people who has had challenges in his own life but has used those challenges and his life experiences to help others. And thats why he is very special. I wish him well for the fantastic work he is yet to do. If you can support him in any way I ask you to do so." - Tim Wraith, Sobell House Hospice
"Andrew is a valued member of the charitable community and always has a positive outlook. Play2Give has been a major part of his life since 2007 and has been a great success and raised a considerable amount of money for such a worthy cause. I would highly reccomend him for anything that involves planning, organisation, events and charities etc. He is a reliable, honest and down to earth person which is hard to come by these days." - Jamie Brown, Pertemps Didcot
"Full of energy Andrew's commitment and dedication to raise funds for Play2Give, his Charity, work that has seen him being honoured with an MBE. I met Andrew for the first time during an event he organised in Didcot at the end of 2020, he is a noble person who is supportive of others in the community. Driving Miss Daisy Didcot and I are proud to be associated with Andrew and Play2Give who is an inspiration and has proven record of his ability to raise funds. Andrew's professionalism and dedication has enabled Play2Give to become the success." - Zororo Mubaya, Director, Driving Miss Daisy Didcot
"Andy is an inspirational leader, he has the rare ability of being able to energise people from diverse backgrounds to come together and pursue a common goal, whether it be mobilising a company to engage in the community or organising communities to come together to help those among us who are most in need. His example removes excuses and his enthusiasm is infectious." - Stuart Wells, CEO New Tech
Credit ITV Meridian News - Andrew's finalist film. Pride of Britain 2019. Andrew was one of four regional finalists for 'ITV Fundraiser of the Year' in the ITV Meridian region. Film broadcast 30th September 2019.
BBC South Today - Watch Adina Campbell's report from July 2017 broadcast on the day Andrew received a British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster. With thanks to BBC South Today and contributors St Birinus School, Headway Oxfordshire and Oxford Children's Hospital.