An inspirational Oxfordshire man who has raised over £70,300 for charity – despite living with an acquired brain injury since birth – has been recognised with a national honour.
Andrew Baker, of Didcot, has been given a British Citizen Award for his services to volunteering and charitable giving.
The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.
Andrew, aged 29, has been fundraising tirelessly since he was a 14-year-old pupil at Didcot’s St Birinus School. Since then, he has raised over £57,300 for the Oxford Children’s Hospital alone as a gesture of thanks for care and support he has received from them over the years, and in particular following a major brain surgery he endured aged 12.
He established his own fundraising organisation, Play2Give, in 2007, to support the hospital and brain injury charity Headway Oxfordshire. Play2Give has become well known and respected throughout Oxfordshire since then and raises money by arranging various events and campaigns, including a popular annual football tournament.
His achievements are all the more remarkable considering he suffers from debilitating headaches and fatigue daily due to his medical condition. He has overcome the obstacles that his acquired brain injury brings and has been relentless in his fundraising efforts.
In addition to his Play2Give group, Andrew has also orchestrated a quirky feel-good festive campaign for the past two years to benefit his local community. Sleigh2Give, which was held in association with both Sainsbury’s and Tesco in Didcot as well as many companies, schools and individuals, raises not only money but also spreads good cheer and joy to sick children at Oxford Children’s Hospital thanks to donated toys, games and gifts that were delivered to the wards in time for Christmas.
The money he has raised over the last 10 years has helped the hospital purchase medical equipment above and beyond the normal NHS standards. In March this year, a patient room for teenagers – ‘The Play2Give Room’ – named after and funded by the organisation, was unveiled at the hospital.
Cash raised by Andrew and his team has also helped Headway Oxfordshire to redevelop its activity and rehabilitation centre and, currently to fund 8 new high tech pieces of customised equipment for the county’s first ‘neurological physiotherapy gym’ in the voluntary sector.
In addition, Andrew and his team has raised money for the John Radcliffe Paediatric Eye Fund; Bone Cancer Research; the Footsteps Foundation, which raises funds to provide innovative physiotherapy to children with neurological disorders; and SpecialEffect, an organisation dedicated to using technology to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities.
He also successfully led a campaign to help save Headway Oxfordshire from closure following budget cuts from the local council.
He is held in very high regard locally thanks to his fundraising work over the years. So much so that, when local taxi firm, Go Green Taxis, found out about Andrew’s medal, they kindly offered to transport him to and from the ceremony free of charge.
Andrew, is one of 30 medallists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on July 6, at the Palace of Westminster. All BCA recipients have positively impact society undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Speaking about his nomination, Andrew said: “It was a really lovely surprise to find out about the award and I’m really excited about it. I couldn’t believe it. It’s a really nice feeling, although, I always feel I don’t quite deserve it, as there are always others that do amazing good deeds, and more deserving. I love doing what I do to make a difference for others for charities closest to my heart, but’s really nice to get that nod of appreciation and thanks.
“It’s really lovely too to be receiving this in my 15th year of fundraising and the 10th anniversary of Play2Give. It’s a real tribute to the thousands of people who have helped, been involved with and supported me over the years including my small ever-growing P2G team. I couldn’t have done any of this without them!”
The awards are in partnership with customer experience management company, InMoment, and are supported by the world’s largest optical retailer, Specsavers; one of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, Places for People; leading ethical law firm Irwin Mitchell; the UK and Europe’s leading palletised freight distribution company, Pall-Ex, owned by BCAs Patron Hilary Devey; and specialist marketing, PR and communications agency, Lime Marketing – who each had representatives at the assessment day and will be presenting the awards in July.
Andrew was nominated for a BCA by friend Linda Latter, who said: “He is a true, genuine young man with a real heart of gold, which is very rare to find these days and he doesn’t ever let life get him down. He lives life to the full and is the life and soul of the party despite his condition. His perseverance, unwavering enthusiasm, relentless commitment and his infectious character makes him so well loved by his circle of friends and family.”
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For more information please contact Sarah Hughes, Senior Account Manager at Lime PR on 07718108695
Notes to Editors
The British Citizen Award recognises individuals that positively impact others and highlights the positive aspects of multi-cultural communities, workplaces, community groups and charities throughout the UK. It is accessible to all and serves to celebrate the good things that make Britain great.