A Didcot group of fundraisers set up by the town’s Andrew Baker in 2007 has seen this year’s fundraising endeavours with the help of supporters break all records in terms of money raised than ever in its 7-year history, with over £9,000 raised.
On Tuesday (December 2nd) at 4.30pm, Play2Give’s volunteers Andrew, along with friends and fellow organisers Dale Harris, Teresa Strike and Elaine Childs, will be visiting the Oxford Children’s Hospital bringing early Christmas cheer to the young patients in the way of the huge cheque totalling £8,590.29, and maybe a beary special visitor too – Barry Bear, the furry life-sized mascot of Newbury Building Society!
July’s football tournament alone raised £7,209 for hospital funds! Play2Give are now naming a room on Melanie’s Ward of the hospital at a £40,000 fundraising goal, and the group are already halfway in this special lifelong commitment with over £26,500 raised towards the hospital.
Andrew, a volunteer at the JR, began fundraising aged 14 in 2003 for the Children’s Hospital with the help and support of school friends and teachers at St Birinus in Didcot, and then the Didcot Girls’ School and sixth formers, before embarking on P2G in late 2007. Andrew has been repaying the Oxford hospital after being treated for a multitude of medical problems after suffering a brain injury at birth, which resulted in various medical interventions. Most notably the major brain surgery he endured aged 12 in 2001, at the Radcliffe Infirmary being the ‘inspiration’ behind his debt of gratitude back.
In February 2013, he was awarded the ‘Inspirational Entrepreneur’ Award at the Oxfordshire Youth Awards, and last month he was named winner of the Oxfordshire region in the Haines Watts Thames Valley Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Reading.
A fellow organiser and joint co-ordinator, Dale Harris, is involved with Andrew for Dale’s daughter, Mya Harris, has been a patient at CHOX since 2002 after she was born with spina bifida. Dale works at Elmer Cotton sports shop in the city centre, and also runs his own youth football team. Teresa and Elaine help run the football tournaments.
An army of other helpers and friends also get involved with Andrew, such as Ross Downes, who works at the Eye Hospital and is a volunteer organiser of the Paediatric Eye Fund, (a small charity set up by CK Patel, Consultant Eye Surgeon) in early 2013, by helping organise the fundraising evenings.
Ross will also be presented with a huge cheque totalling £1,101.71 to the Paediatric Eye Fund through the Play2Give group’s fundraising endeavours this year.
Play2Give was born with a football tournament, and since then a whole host of other endeavours and initiatives have been mustered.
Today, the fundraising organisation has grown and grown into a successful institution and the football fun days alone have become well renowned across the county. 2014’s day in July saw 18 boys teams take part, including Barton United U10s who will be receiving a special cup at Tuesday’s grand presentation for the team raising the most amount of sponsorship of any of the teams at this year’s tournament.
Play2Give has raised over £32,000 in total over the last 7 years. Andrew over nearly 12 years with the help of his army of fundraising friends has raised over £41,300 for the Children’s Hospital to date.
2014 Play2Give highlights:
- The annual children’s football tournament, in July 2014, at Oxford City Football Club saw the most amount of funds raised in the football tournament’s history – £7,209 for the Children’s Hospital.
- A fundraising party, held in February 2014 with the support of Didcot Rugby Club, saw Play2Give’s 2014 fundraising kick started, raising a record £1,814 – shared between the Children’s Hospital and the Paediatric Eye Fund of the John Radcliffe. Andrew celebrated a decade of fundraising, which he achieved in early 2013, by having his head shaved on the night – and added an extra £700 into charity funds.
- Sainsbury’s Didcot adopted Play2Give as their ‘Fundraising Partner of the Year’ in July, 2014, after nominations from customers, and a calendar of activities and events have been planned until summer 2015.
- A team of 6 took on the annual OX5 Run at Blenheim Palace in March, which helped the run with near 1,500 competitors raise a record £114,000 for the hospital.
- Supporters Matthew Hambridge, of Witney, and Lee Crook, nightshift worker at Sainsbury’s Didcot, have both taken on ‘Movember’ in November supporting Play2Give sporting mo’s and between them have raised near on £270 between them
- Tesco Didcot held a sponsored slim-a-thon between store staff in January as well as buying Play2Give wristbands.
- The Park Club on Milton Park have also recently joined the bandwagon, by selling wristbands at reception and a group of Personal Trainers at the gym are taking on ‘Decembeard’ next month raising money by sprouting the most bushiest of beards throughout the festive month
- The 9th Oxfordshire Sports Awards, organised by the Oxfordshire Sport Partnership and held at Kassam Stadium, on November 28th, are also supporting Play2Give through a raffle and table collections.