A fundraising organisation which has been changing, transforming and saving lives for twelve years has set its sights on two ambitious goals.
Didcot-based Play2Give, which this month turns 12 years old helps local charities including Oxford Children’s Hospital and Headway Oxfordshire, amongst other good causes and people in need.
The organisation, set up by Andy Baker from the town, has given over £165,000 through events such as talent shows, football tournaments and fun days and campaigns such as annual gift appeals, making a real impact to tens of thousands of life.
In 2017 its impact to the Children’s Hospital was so significant that a patient room for teenagers named after the organisation at over £40,000 was opened. And later that year saw a neurological physiotherapy gym open at Headway Oxfordshire’s base in Kennington. Play2Give funded 7 specialised exercise chairs at £7,000 for the specialist gym for adults with brain injuries, like Andy who has been a service user under Headway for over seven years.
Now the organisation headed by Andy is hoping to raise enough funds to see a sensory rehabilitation garden at the brain injury Headway centre become a reality and has kick started the garden project with a donation of over £505 through various recent fundraising endeavours including the ‘Superheroes’ a group of caped crusaders who came together earlier this year to support Andy’s fundraising efforts and help Play2Give increase its funds and awareness.
Play2Give also hopes to raise £5,000 to sponsor a family room in the Ronald McDonald House at the John Radcliffe and with just three months to go until the end of this year they are now less than £1,000 away from reaching this very special goal.
Already through various fundraising events including rock and roll Bingo nights, tombolas, quiz nights, cakes sales, a Summer Fayre and other endeavours, Andy’s organisation has helped ensure a room for 147 nights to families staying within the facility has been provided. It costs the Ronald McDonald House which provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation to families of sick children in the John Radcliffe £25 a night to keep a family accommodated in a room.
Andy, or ‘Mr Play2Give’ as he is also known, set up his organisation on 13th September 2007 initially through a football tournament which became famed across the county for charity particularly in raising funds for the Oxford Children’s Hospital, after he was inspired to give back to the hospital and other local good causes including Headway after being born with a brain injury, and receiving years of ‘wonderful’ care and treatment in his childhood including brain surgery he endured aged 12.
He was pivotal in the original fundraising campaign to build the Children’s hospital when his fundraising efforts to ‘repay’ medics and nurses in his passion to raise money towards seeing the hospital, which opened in 2007, open began aged 14 in 2003 in which £1,000 from a non school uniform day at St Birinus School turned into over £175,000 he has now achieved both through events and through the value of gifts that his charity has donated through festive appeals, over the past 17 years.
In July 2017 Andy received an esteemed British Citizen Award for which he has now gone on to become an official ambassador to advocate for these national awards and was invited to Her Majesty The Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace on his 30th birthday last year, in recognition of his tireless charitable work.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Andy is now busy organising many more fundraising events which over the next year will see Play2Give continue to raise money for local good causes, with a particular focus on raising funds towards the new sensory rehabilitation garden at Headway’s base, its final sprint to raise the final few hundred of pounds for the family room at Ronald McDonald House and from next year being wider involved in the House’s crucial fundraising exercise, as well as continuing to help awareness and raise funds for its many other local causes.
The Superheroes will carry out a number of ‘big’ challenges ‘by foot’ over the coming year including a superheroic 19-mile walk from Didcot to the Children’s Hospital on Saturday, September 28th through passing towns and villages such as Abingdon, Radley and Kennington on route, through to plans for a Superheroes fun day and run at Boundary Park in Didcot next year, and continuing to soak up the atmosphere literally at public events such as Harwell feast and next year’s Didcot Summer Fayre by the caped crusaders being ‘splat’ in the stocks.
The organisation holds it second sell-out black-tie Ball with a masquerade theme at the end of this month at Didcot Civic Hall, and later this month sees the launch of their fifth annual “Sleigh2Give” appeal, which is Andy’s annual festive appeal which each year aims to spread cheer, joy and smiles to those less fortunate, through gifts raised. Last year’s “Sleigh2Give” was the biggest on record with an estimated £30,000 worth of presents given out to children in hospital, young carers and underprivileged families in South Oxfordshire.
A Fitness Class-Athlon is being held by UTC Oxfordshire Sport on October 19th, and a ‘Heroes and Villains’ party will be held at Partyman World in Oxford on Saturday, October 26th to top up the charity pot, with other events, including ‘Gweeplefest 2’ at Harwell village hall in late November.
Next Summer will see the return of its football tournament in association with the Partyman Magic Makers charity.
For more information about Play2Give and any of its upcoming fundraising events, or to donate, see play2give.org.uk or search Play2Give on social media.