It was a big night for the volunteering stars from a prolific Didcot fundraising group as they was honoured for their incredible work for others.
The 2021 ceremony, delayed from earlier in the year due to the coronavirus restrictions, was held last Saturday, March 26th, and it was a big night for Play2Give and Andy.
Not only did the group receive the mayor’s surprise award as community champions, but Andy Baker was also shortlisted in the Lifetime Achievement Award category – in recognition of his twenty years of fundraising.
The Lifetime winner was Sheila Bayliss from the town.
Didcot and Wantage MP, David Johnston, was a special guest at the awards evening and is also a Patron of the Thames Valley award-winning charity of the year. David was on hand to present a surprise ‘special recognition’ award on the night to Andrew, who earlier this year marked two decades of making a difference since a very young age.
In February 2003, former St Birinus School pupil Andy, began fundraising for local causes after being inspired following the childhood treatment including brain surgery, he received aged 12.
Aged 14, and with a dream to raise £500 to help fund the building of the Oxford Children’s Hospital, as a thank you back, Andy set out to give back to the hospital teams, and twenty years on and through the Play2Give organisation, he has gone on to raise over £380,000 for causes Headway Oxfordshire, SSNAP, Sobell House, Footsteps and others alongside the specialist children’s hospital.
Andys dedication saw him honoured for services to charity with an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2021.
Living with a brain injury he was born with, he has attended the Headway Oxfordshire centre in Kennington over the past decade, for his ongoing rehabilitation and support as a service user. Headway is one of Play2Give’s key charities and through a wide range of fundraising events and activities, the group has raised over £20,000 to date for the specialist charity, which supports adults and their carers living with the impact of brain injuries.
This year Play2Give marks fifteen years of changing, transforming and saving lives locally and has a busy year packed full of events, with a goal to raise £15k in 15 to commemorate its anniversary. Events will include the return of its football tournament in July, a family fun on the park day at Boundary Park in September and a group of skydivers, taking to the skies to raise adrenaline filled funds.
The group recently held their third gala ball with a Hollywood theme at the Didcot Civic Hall and it was a blockbuster success raising with a record breaking £3,500 plus forecasted to have been raised.
Maggie Ingram, one of the group’s current longest serving volunteers, was shortlisted in the John Eldridge Award for her dedication for a decade.
Other winners on the night included the Covid Vaccination volunteers with the Covid Hero award; Didcot Barramundi Swimming Club with a sporting achievement award and Didcot Baby Monday’s Kathryn Goldsby-West received the John Eldridge Award for Voluntary Service.
Pictured is Andy with MP David Johnston and Mayor, Mocky and his special award, alongside the community champion trophy awarded to Play2Give.