It’s not very often you get a special invite to rub shoulders with royalty at Buckingham Palace and on your birthday. But for an inspirational Oxfordshire fundraiser who has dedicated half of his life to helping others that is the just the lucky ticket!
Founder of Play2Give, Andrew Baker of Didcot, is one of the lucky thousands selected from across the country to ‘bag’ a very special date at the palace – and on the day of his 30th birthday – in recognition of his tireless and unrelenting charity work.
The former St Birinus School pupil, dubbed ‘Mr Play2Give’, has thrown himself into fundraising over the past 16 years. Inspired to help others after receiving treatment from birth for a multitude of health problems, Andy is now just £9,000 away from reaching £100,000 – which he hopes to achieve by the end of the year.
The 29-year-old began his fundraising mission aged 14 in 2003 to repay the Oxford medical teams who saved his life at birth, and aged at aged 12.
He set up his hugely successful fundraising organisation, Play2Give, in 2007 to continue the fundraising he first embarked upon at St Birinus. Over that time he has helped raise funds for Oxford Children’s Hospital, brain injury charity Headway Oxfordshire, Footsteps in Dorchester and other county-based charities. He has organised a wide range of events including football tournaments, balls, charity nights, fun days, skydives, walks, Christmas toy drives, supermarket appeals and many more to ‘net’ in funds.
The ‘team effort’ in Andy’s fundraising earnt him recognition along the way scooping a prestigious British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster in July 2017, in the same year which saw The Play2Give Room – a treatment room for teenage patients in the children’s hospital – open in P2G’s name. The fundraising organisation steered by Andy at the helm saw their most successful year raising close to a record £20,000 in its tenth anniversary.
Andy, who fought for life in the special care baby unit after being born with a brain injury at the John Radcliffe, and subsequently underwent brain surgery, aged 12 following a further head injury, has been given the ‘best birthday present’ of them all – attending one of Her Majesty The Queen’s Royal Garden parties on June 5th.
He was nominated for the honour by Mayor of Didcot, Jackie Billington, in a special process that involved the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire – The Queen’s representative. The prestigious Royal Garden Party, one of three held at Buckingham Palace this summer, on June 5th recognise and reward thousands of stalwarts from all walks of life for their positive impact and contributions in their communities.
Andy, of Great Western Drive, will be attending his very special Royal date at the palace with his biggest supporter of them all, his mum Ann, and says being at the occasion will be a ‘tribute’ to the countless thousands who have helped get behind, involved and supported his fundraising efforts over the past sixteen years.
Play2Give is busy organising Didcot’s new Summer Fayre, being held on August 4th at Edmonds Park in the town. The nine-hour long family fun event, organised in partnership with Sustainable Didcot, will also see live music on the evening. Didcot Parkway will hold a charity collection and cakes sale Saturday in June, a martial arts sparathon will take place in June, and there will also be a bag packing weekend at Tesco Didcot later in the year, as well as other events all to help boost the organisation’s appeal and Andy to within his £100,000 milestone this year.