Play2Give founder is Soha Housing’s Community Champion of the Year
An inspirational Didcot man who has raised and donated out tens of thousands of pounds for local charities has been honoured by the housing association of which he is a tenant.
Soha Housing held their AGM and ‘Thank-you’ evening recently, and Andrew Baker, 30, who runs the Play2Give charity was the big winner of the night receiving the award for Community Champion of the Year, along with two other nominations. A record number of nominations was received for Soha’s ‘thank you’ awards by members as a way to recognise those tenants who go the extra mile in their local communities – whether in fundraising, being a good neighbour, volunteering their time towards a project or charity, or being known as an unsung hero.
Andy, who set up the fundraising organisation Play2Give in 2007, has been fundraising since the age of 14. He began his mission to repay Oxford medics who treated him throughout childhood when he was a year 10 schoolboy in 2003 at St Birinus School in Didcot.
He was born with a brain injury, and underwent brain surgery at the age of 12. He has gone on to raise and donate out more than £174,000 through fundraising events, gifts from his annual ‘Sleigh2Give’ appeal – which gives out presents to those less fortunate at Christmas including toys to sick children in hospital – and more recently through a team of ‘Superheroes’ taking part in the Oxford Mail OX5RUN in March.
The money Andy and his team of volunteers and supporters has raised over the over past 17 years has supported many local charities including the Oxford Children’s Hospital (including funding a single patient room for teenagers), Ronald McDonald House, Headway Oxfordshire, Footsteps and Be Free Young Carers. In total, 18 charities across the county have benefited from the efforts of Play2Give over 11 years.
Many Soha tenants across the housing association, which provides 6,600 affordable homes to 10,000 residents in and around south Oxfordshire, were recognised including Courtney Hughes, 21, who collects gifts for the vulnerable and elderly, through her Secret Santa charity. Andy, who has lived in a Soha housing home ever since he was born and serves as a member, said being given the awards by his housing provider were ‘extra special’ and were a ‘continued tribute’ to everyone who continues to support and helps him in his charitable giving.
Andy hopes to raise up to £15,000 through fundraising endeavours this year, and efforts will include a ‘Superheroes’ 19.8-mile run and walk from Didcot Football Club to the John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital on May 18th, a golf day in July, a glitzy ball in September, attending the Harwell feast and Bands on the Boundary events, and running the Didcot Summer Fayre for a second year set to take place on August 3rd, amongst many other events.
Andy received a national British Citizen Award in July 2017 at the Palace of Westminster, and was a guest at Her Majesty The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on his 30th birthday in June last year in recognition of his tireless commitment and dedication to charitable giving.
Notes to Editors:
For more information about Soha’s recent AGM and ‘thank you’ event and more about the housing association, contact Soha’s communications team on 01235 515900 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact or speak to Andy directly, call 07939064308 or email email@example.com
ATTACHED: Picture is of Andy receiving his award for ‘Community Champion of the Year’ from Soha Housing’s CEO, Kate Wareing. Pic – courtesy of Soha Housing.