SEVENTEEN years since raising his first grand at a school non-uniform day, a determined fundraiser for Oxford's healthcare has smashed his £100,000 target.

After countless tombolas, football matches, talent contests and collection drives, Andy Baker achieved his lifelong goal this month, despite himself living with a brain injury from birth.

Under the banner of Play2Give, the 30-year-old Didcot man, who began his mission to thank the medics who saved his life, has donated the cash to help ill children at Oxford Children’s Hospital and victims of brain injuries at Headway Oxfordshire, among other causes.

He said: "I am on cloud nine to be honest.

"We wanted to get there before the end of the year and it's absolutely amazing.

"I started out as a 14-year-old schoolboy who wanted to give something back and just kept coming up with ways to raise money.

"I have been driven by my gift of life, I would not be here without the medics who saved me.

"I have always been determined, always wanted to carry on and am constantly motivated by those I get to meet who have benefitted from all we've done."

Doctors discovered Mr Baker had a brain injury when he was born and he was rushed into a special baby care unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The condition was so debilitating that he wasn't able to talk until he was five and he is still plagued by fatigue, headaches and balance difficulties.

When he was 12 he underwent surgery to remove a lump from his skull, necessitating a further stint in the hospital.

Two years later, while a student at St Birinus School in Didcot and motivated by his own experiences, he put his mind to raising much-needed funds for the then new children's hospital at Oxford, and approached teachers about holding a non-uniform day.

He raised double his first target of £500 and Play2Give was formed in 2007 with the help of friends to carry on the work.

The efforts proved so successful that a room in the children's hospital has been named after the organisation and it has also helped to pay for monitors, research equipment, play areas and toys and games.

Sarah Vaccari, spokeswoman for the Oxford Hospitals Charity, said yesterday: "The Play2give team have all worked so hard on their incredible fundraising for local causes, including the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

"We are so very grateful for all they have done."

To celebrate Play2Give's 10-year anniversary last year, Mr Baker and his team set out to raise £10,000 in 12 months but ended up nearly doubling that.

Having reached six figures, the team are now setting their sights on getting to £150,000 as soon as possible.

Mr Baker said: "Everybody has backed me since the start – it's been a real team effort.

"A lot of people have said others would have given up by now but I never will.

"Even when it has been hard I have never really stopped.

"I wouldn't have imagined I would still be going when I was 30... it's been more than half my life now but I want to keep doing it.

"All that we have achieved has been down to determination, perseverance and never giving up.

"We're so grateful to everyone who has supported us and the Oxford Mail who have given us so much help over the years."

Play2Give is now looking to lend its weight to the campaign to build a new Ronald Macdonald House in the grounds of the JR to provide accommodation for the families of ill children.

Mr Baker said his own mother often had to resort to sleeping on a camp bed on the floor when he was in hospital so he had seen how much this facility was needed.

In recognition for his work, he was invited to Buckingham Palace for the Queen's garden party earlier this year and received a British Citizen Award in July 2017 at the Palace of Westminster.

Headway Oxfordshire is another of the causes to have greatly benefitted and received £6,563 from Play2Give for physiotherapy equipment, allowing it to become one of the only organisations in the area to offer this service to people with brain injuries.

Marketing and events officer Sharelle Holdsworth said: "This is a huge part of our service and we absolutely wouldn't have been able to do it without the support from Play2Give.

"We are hugely proud and continue to be grateful and wish them all the best for the future.

"It supports a positive message around the centre and shows what can be achieved, even if you have a brain injury."