A BRAIN injury survivor who has dedicated his life to raising more than £380,000 for good causes is celebrating two decades of charity work this week.

Andy Baker, 33, from Didcot, set up his charity Play2Give to thank medical staff who helped him recover from treatment for the head condition with which he was born.

He started raising cash for good causes in 2003 then set up his own charity, Play2Give – born out of the concept of a football tournament – in 2007. He has supported several charities, including Oxford Children’s Hospital Charity, the brain charity Headway Oxfordshire, the charity Support for Sick Newborn and Parents (SSNAP) and the Sobell House hospice at the Churchill Hospital in Headington. He received an MBE for services to charity last year.

Read more: New primary school to open in Didcot

Herald Series: Andy Baker, Play2Give founderAndy Baker, Play2Give founder

To celebrate the milestone, Play2Give will hold its third fundraising ball, a Hollywood themed gala at Didcot Civil Hall, on March 12.

This year the fundraising charity commemorates its fifteenth anniversary, and aims to raise at least £15k through a jam packed calendar of events.

Mr Baker said: “This is a big year. It has been 20 years of fundraising for me, and 15 years for Play2Give. I still remember the day the Didcot Herald came to take the picture of me with the big check.

“Play2Give seems to be there more and more each year.

"We’ve had great highlights throughout our fundraising years. For example, the patient room at the Children’s Hospital, which is a lifelong legacy.”

Mr Baker was born with a brain injury and was cared for at Oxford hospitals since birth, he then suffered an additional head injury aged eight which resulted in him needing further treatment and later surgery at the age of 12.

It was a desire to give something back and the launch of a campaign by the Didcot Herald's sister paper, the Oxford Mail, to help build a new Oxford Children’s Hospital, that propelled Mr Baker into fundraising.

Valentine's Day will mark 20 years since the former pupil of Didcot's St Birinus School, organised his first fundraiser.

Aged just14, and to say thank you back to the Oxford medics who cared for him during his rehabilitation, he set out to raise £500 to help fund the building of the specialist children's hospital on the site of the John Radcliffe Hospital.

He said: “Despite the brain injury and the twice weekly rehabilitation I still receive 10 years on from the Headway Oxfordshire Centre, I continue to fight, strong-willed and inspired, to just keep on raising more.

"I want to keep changing, transforming and saving lives across Oxfordshire. Over 40 good causes locally benefited in that time.”

Didcot mayor, Mocky Khan said: "Andy Baker is a community champion and has become a local legend due to his hard work and fundraising through Play2Give.

I am amazed by his commitment, dedication, and passion to help others. Well done Andy, congratulations and keep going!"

Tickets for the Play2Give fundraising ball can be booked at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on/didcot/didcot-civic-hall/the-play2give-big15-ball/2022-03-12/18:30/t-epkzpx


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