Personal trainer with eye disorder takes on a ‘monster’ of a run for charity

Published: 16th March 2015

A personal trainer with an eye disorder is in training to limber up for a mighty run with a difference as he prepares to take on the Monster Race at Cornbury Park on April 18.

Tom Shaw, left, a Personal Trainer who runs¬†TS Fitness Oxfordshire, has rallied four of his¬†‚Äėfriends and¬†clients‚Äô to take on this¬†exhilarating¬†5km course to raise funds for a cause close to Tom‚Äôs heart – Play2Give – to help¬†children going through similar conditions like himself.

Tom who is also Fitness Manager at the Willowbrook Leisure Centre, Didcot, and also trains clients at The Park Club, Milton Park, feels he owes a value of life and a debt of gratitude to the eye medics that have literally transformed his life.  Tom suffers from a rare eye condition known as Keratoconus, and has also experienced the invaluable work of the medics at the John Radcliffe Hospital as his younger brother also suffers from various medical conditions.

Along with Andy Morley, Jonny Simmonds, Ryan Evans and Punit Mistry, all four will be supporting Play2Give Рwhich is a fundraising organisation set up by Andrew Baker, 26, from Didcot.  The money raised for Play2Give will be donated to Oxford Children’s Hospital, the Paediatric Eye Fund at the John Radcliffe Hospital, and brain injury charity, Headway Oxfordshire.

On preparing for the race,¬†Tom says:¬†‚ÄúBeing motivated for the¬†Monster Race¬†wasn‚Äôt hard. 2 years ago I was diagnosed with an eye condition called Keratoconus. This condition basically makes my normal vision extremely blurred as the cornea has misshapened from its usual shape to more of a cone.¬†This condition has changed my life and will never get better.¬†I regularly visit the Oxford Eye hospital and I¬†see the children that have similar or worse eye conditions than¬†myself. Seeing first hand, upon visits the tests and treatments they have to go through at such a small age, when I found out Play2Give¬†supports the Paediatric Eye Fund at the hospital getting involved in such an exhilarating challenge was a no brainer for me.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúAs a personal trainer it is hard living with my condition but I always want to get on with my life and be active and try and achieve as much as I can. I suppose I always got this mentality from my little brother who¬†has a¬†form of¬†cerebral palsy as well as other medical conditions including epilepsy. He‚Äôs four years younger than me and my whole life I have watched him fight for the most basic of things that we all take for granted such as walking and talking.¬† His determination has got him through life and he is a much more able young adult.‚ÄĚ

Part of a 11-strong¬†‚ÄėPlay2Give‚Äô team the fantastic five are hoping to raise up to ¬£500 in their sponsorship, and as well as donations through buckets at both centres, they are hoping to reach the target through sponsored leg waxes and for Tom¬†a¬†‚Äėkettlebell‚Äô challenge. For every ¬£1 donated Tom will complete a 1 kettle bell swing, 350 swung in total if the target is achieved!

‚ÄúThe¬†Monster Run¬†is going to be hard but as a personal trainer I should be able to handle the physical side. On the day I‚Äôm going to be there for my clients that are doing the race with me. They have various physical abilities but all are doing the race for personal gain and to have a good laugh at the same time!” adds Tom.

Tom added: ‚ÄúI‚Äôm a proud trainer for the way they have trained to prep for the race. Hopefully we will raise our target and make a difference to a local cause at the same time that does such excellent work in the form of a fellow member Andrew¬† Baker who himself has come through tough times in life from a brain injury and surgery, but, who I see regularly get back into good shape through training at the gym.”

The team are joined by Craig Harris, 33, from Bicester, David Reilly, from Hampshire (an ITV Meridian journalist), Paul¬† Lyford, 26, and Antony Shorter, 25, both of Abingdon – all four of which are friends of Andrew Baker, along with Sara Dixon, who runs the Angels Performing Stage School Didcot, and several employees of Sainsbury’s Didcot also planning to take on the gauntlet.

It is hoped the team in total could raise up to ¬£1,000 between them.¬† The entire¬†‚ÄėPlay2Givers‚Äô team can be sponsored¬†here

Play2Give has donated over ¬£33,100 since 2007, and over ¬£26,700 of this for the¬†Children‚Äôs Hospital. Play2Give are now aiming¬†towards raising¬†a ¬£40,000 target to sponsor the naming of its very own room within the hospital and the group are well over halfway towards this goal. ¬†Andrew¬†founded Play2Give after being inspired following treatment from birth throughout childhood for various medical interventions after suffering a brain injury upon birth, head injury aged 8 and major brain surgery aged 12 in 2001.¬†Andrew¬†with the help of supporters, friends and schools, has raised over ¬£48,000 for charities with over ¬£41k of this for the¬†Children’s Hospital¬†over the last 12 years.¬† More information about Play2Give at¬†

An Oxford city councilor¬†is getting ready to take on a hot challenge literally by signing up to take on a ‘chili-eating’ contest to fire up funds for local charities.

Mark Lygo from Headington and an Oxford city councilor for parks and sports, is no stranger to charitable requests fulfilling as many as he can for so many worthy causes.

But February 21st may just possibly be the most sizzling challenge he has ever undertaken, when he along with others, gulps down seriously hot chili’s in support of Play2Give.

The Play2Give fundraising organisation¬† was founded by Andrew Baker, a Didcot resident in 2007, and raises funds for local charities, primarily the Oxford Children’s Hospital, through local events. To date, the group have donated over ¬£32,000 to the hospital as well as many other chosen charities, such as Headway Oxfordshire and the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Paediatric Eye Fund.

Mark first met Andrew at the Oxfordshire Youth Awards in 2013, when Andrew was awarded the Inspirational Entrepreneur Award. Just a couple of weeks later Mark braved the clippers in a charity head and beard shave for the Children’s Hospital, in inspiration of Andrew and young hospital patient, Mya Harris.

On Saturday, February 21st Play2Give are hosting their fifth fundraising party – ‘An Evening of Play2Giving 4 Entertaining 2015’, which will fire up hundreds of extra pounds for Headway Oxfordshire, the Kennington-based brain injury charity. Andrew currently receives support and rehabilitation from the charity due to the head injuries he endured, as well as the Paediatric Eye Fund also benefiting.

Andrew and Daniel Buttress, a research nurse at the Oxford Eye Hospital whose staff raise funds for the childhood eye research fund, have teamed together this year to organise this night fun of fundraising and entertainment, which is being held at the Didcot Town Football Club, which the party will kick off at 7pm.

Mark will be doing his bit through raising sponsorship, and anyone who wishes to support him in this cracking heat of a feat can donate at or e-mail

Three employees of Sainsbury’s Didcot, Christopher Walker, Karl Saunders and Phil Webber, are also taking on the challenge.

As well as the chilli eating and bushtucker trial contest (which takes place between 8pm-9pm), a disco, buffet and raffle will all be provided, as well as a dazzling fireworks display from Illusion Fireworks. The evening is sponsored by Johnsons Cars Oxford and runs until late.  Entry is via a £5 donation on the door, under 10s go free.    More information at

Notes to editors: Mark Lygo can be contacted on 07826527047 /
Andrew Baker (Play2Give) can be contacted on / or 07939064308, or Danny Buttress on / 01865 226865

Photographs for the press can be arranged, by contacting Mark, or the organisers Andy Baker or Danny Buttress, see numbers above.