An Oxfordshire charity has nominated a telecommunications company based in Witney in this year’s Local Business Charity Awards.

The nomination recognises the company's fundraising involvement, which resulted in the creation of the Twin Town Car Challenge, an annual event which has already raised over £830,000 for the Special Effect charity and is on its way to break the £1 million threshold next year.

Special Effect is an organisation like no other: supported by the UK’s community of digital technologies enthusiasts, the charity based in Chalbury, West Oxfordshire, helps people with physical disabilities to join the digital world by designing unique control devices for them.

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From modified joypads to eye-control technology, the charity uses high-end technological solutions not only to bring the fun and joy of computer gaming into the lives of people with disabilities, but also to allow them to work and creatively express themselves.

An access to digital entertainment brings families and friends together and positively impacts disabled people’s confidence and their rehabilitation efforts.

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The charity was launched in 2007 by Dr Mick Donegan, an experienced teacher and assistive technology specialist who, amongst his numerous achievements, has records of developing the first of a new generation of gaze-controlled computers and a high-quality, low-cost gaze tracker which has been sold in thousands to severely disabled people all over the world, including people with locked-in syndrome, Motor Neurone Disease and spinal injuries.

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One of those who Special Effect has helped is Ajay, an IT support analyst with spinal muscular atrophy, who had not been able to play computer games since he lost his hand dexterity when he was 17 years old.

Special Effect designed a a chin-controlled joystick supported by voice-control setup, allowing Ajay not only to play games, but also to control his PC at work.

He said: "Initially I wanted to play every game because I was so excited. Special Effect have given me back something I lost many years ago.”

Brendon Cross, managing director of Witney-based STL Communications is one of the organisation’s most devoted supporters, whose involvement has been recognised with two nominations for this year’s Oxfordshire Local Business Charity Awards: one is an individual nomination for Mr Cross, and the other praises the company’s team, who have helped to organise several events supporting Special Effect.

The largest of these is the Twin Town Car Challenge, a rally happening each May since 2014.

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The event’s website describes the rules: “Teams buy a £500 banger and pimp their ride however they like.

“Then over a long weekend in May they take an epic road trip. The route goes from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to Witney’s twin town, Le Touquet in northern France.

“We arrange a series of fun events and challenges before the main event to help you get in the spirit and meet your fellow Twin Towners. These will see you rubbing shoulders with celebrities, stoking team rivalries and having great fun.

“The big jamboree is in Le Touquet itself, where our French compatriots throw a street party extravaganza. Expect live bands, fine French food and flowing drinks to help you toast your successful trip!

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“On our return to merry England, afternoon tea and an awards ceremony round off a fantastic, fun weekend. All in aid of a great cause.”

The results are impressive: in the nomination for this year’s Local Business Charity Awards, Special Effect’s Nick Streeter wrote: “The Twin Town Car Challenge since 2014 has raised over £800,000 for our work, organised on a totally voluntary basis by Brendon and his team.”

The Local Business Charity Awards are sponsored by insurance brokers Jelf and A-Plan with the Oxford Mail’s media partnership.

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In the Oxfordshire edition six businesses and three individuals have received a nomination.

To enter, charities had to nominate an Oxfordshire business or individual, which had done an outstanding job supporting them. If their nominated business wins, the charity will receive a donation of £1,000.

The winner of the Individual Award will receive a weekend break to the value of £300.

The finals will be held tomorrow at Thomley, Menmarsh Road, Worminghall.