Andrew Baker, a brain injury survivor who made it his mission to raise thousands of pounds for brain injury and children’s hospital charities, will now, after almost two decades of fundraising receive an (MBE) from the Queen.
Mr Baker, 32, the founder and CEO of Play2Give, the Oxfordshire fundraising organisation, was born with a brain injury and was cared for since birth, he then suffered a head injury at the age of eight which resulted in him needing further treatment and later surgery at the age of 12.
The St Birinus pupil started raising money at age 14 in what started out as a dream to raise £500 to help build the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Play2Give has now raised about £250,000 for Oxfordshire charities, hosting a range of fundraising events to raise money for the Children’s Hospital, Headway Oxfordshire, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
The Didcot fundraiser said he received an email in November ‘out of the blue’ informing him that he had been chosen to receive the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his charitable work.
Mr Baker explained that due to coronavirus, he received an email instead of a ‘fancy’ letter in the post. At first, he did not believe the email was real and questioned if he was even meant to receive it.
Mr Baker said: “I was speechless really, it took a while for it to sink in, it took a few hours. The only person who knows about it is my mum. She has been my lifelong supporter and she was so proud and emotional.” He added: “Nothing is higher than an honour from the Queen, so it was quite a nice early Christmas present.”
Mr Baker has found it hard to keep his excitement in and keep the news of an MBE a secret from his supporters. He said: “Although the MBE is for me it is also a nice tribute to all my team and my supporters.”
Adding his congratulations, MP for Wantage and Didcot and Patron, David Johnston, wrote: “I am a proud patron of Play2Give and am absolutely delighted to see Andy get this well-deserved recognition. Andy is a local hero and at a young age had already raised more money for charity than most adults do – I am so pleased to see him get an honour that celebrates his contribution to the community.”
The fundraiser is looking forward to a bright future for Play2Give and hopes the MBE will help give the organisation more recognition and support.
For Mr Baker the news came at a hard time. This year he lost someone he saw as a second mother to terminal cancer.
He said: “There have been times this year when things got tough and I wanted to throw it all in, but the thought of helping all the children in the hospital and all the other people kept me going.”