CHILLI-EATING contests, secret Santas, superhero strolls and sponsored head shaves.

These are just a few of the wacky schemes one county charity has cooked up to help raise £51,000 for Oxford’s Children’s Hospital.

Didcot-based Play2Give celebrated its best year in 2015, chalking up £9,572 for the hospital and another £4,030 for other good causes.

Now the team are just £3,836 away from a £40,000 goal to have a room named after the charity on the hospital’s teenage ward.

Andrew Baker, who founded the charity after receiving life-changing treatment at the hospital as a baby, said he was delighted.

“Play2Give has achieved new records this year and smashed the amount raised for charities in 2014,” he said.

But he was quick to pay tribute to the countless people who have helped organise or join in with football tournaments, bake sales and fundraising discos over the past eight years.

In particular he paid tribute to his core team – Dale Harris, Teresa Strike, Elaine Childs and Craig Harris.

Today, Oxford Children’s Hospital, on the John Radcliffe Hospital site in Headington, provides specialist treatment for thousands of youngsters.

When Mr Baker was born, it didn’t exist.

He spent his first days fighting for life in the John Radcliffe’s special care baby unit where doctors discovered and later removed a brain tumour.

He couldn’t speak until he was six years old, and at eight he suffered further damage after a football struck his head at school, resulting in major surgery at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

He was only diagnosed with a brain injury in 2010, after an MRI scan revealed the extent of the damage.

Despite all this, Mr Baker started spearheading fundraising efforts for the John Radcliffe children’s ward, as it then was, in 2003, with help from his old school St Birinus in Didcot and Didcot Girls’ School.

In his first four years he helped raise £16,000 for the ward and in 2007 watched as Oxford’s first dedicated children’s hospital opened its doors.

The same year, he and a group of friends set up an official charity – Play2Give – in order to bring a charity football tournament to life.

The group also raises money for the John Radcliffe’s Paediatric Eye Fund, brain injury charity Headway Oxfordshire and more.

Since 2003, Mr Baker has helped raise £60,654 for various good causes.

Of that, £51,000 has gone towards new medical equipment and facilities at Oxford Children’s Hospital – £36,163 of it raised by Play2Give.

Hospital director of fundraising Jayne Ozanne said: “The Play2Give team has shown enormous dedication and enthusiasm over the years to raise huge sums for the Oxford Children’s Hospital, and it is a real credit to them all that their annual football tournament continues to grow and flourish, becoming a major fixture in the local calendar.

“We are also very grateful to Andrew Baker, who having being a patient himself understands how important the added extras are that the charity provides.

Oxford Mail:

  • Andrew Baker tests out some chillies on Danny Buttress

“It is wonderful how he has used his own experiences to inspire others – from schools to supermarkets – to get fundraising.”

In November, the charity was presented with the Best Fundraising Award at the 2015 Didcot Business and Community Awards (BACAs).

But the team have no time to rest on their laurels. They are already busy planning their annual kids’ football tournament in July, another football match and fundraising party in the spring, a few skydivers, a “monster race”...

See for details.