Eight volunteers have been shortlisted in the search for the 2017 #givingtuesday UK Charity Champion, who will inspire the nation to ‘do good stuff’.
#givingtuesday is led in the UK by Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and will take place on Tuesday 28th November. It calls for people to ‘do good stuff’ for causes, and the #givingtuesday champion will serve as an ambassador for the campaign.
Previous winners of the campaign include Andrew Davies, who raised £150,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and Courtney Hughes who has launched her own charity to distribute Christmas presents to people in care homes in Oxfordshire.
The winner of the champion search will be given a platform to share their story to inspire others, and to show why people should come together on #givingtuesday to do good stuff.
This year’s shortlist includes:
Brian Dix, of Gloucester, who set up Goals Beyond Grass to help people with disabilities to do physical and social activities. Patrick Cleal, who nominated Brian, said: “Brian is selfless and works night and day to make a positive difference to the lives of disabled people.”
Retired teacher John Breeze, from Wadebridge, known as Breezy has donated the proceeds of his busking to Leukaemia Busters since 1996 and has to date raised more than £64,000.Susan Rudge, who nominated John, said: “Come rain or shine Breezy can be found at Padstow Harbour singing to raise funds for Leukaemia Busters.
“Breezy plays for appreciative passers by along the harbour wall at Padstow where he gladly receives donations into his open guitar case.”
Jessica Lewis, from Kent, who has raised more than £300,000 for mitochondrial disease researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital since 2012, when she lost her 14-month-old daughter Anna to the illness. Jessica set up a Brighter Future Fund, organizing events such as runs, walks, fun days, balls and cake sales – with one friend even being sponsored to go through labour in silence.
Claire Wright, who nominated Jessica, said : “Anna was fit and well until she was 10 months old and then suddenly the condition showed itself. After her death Jess decided something had to change. It was just not right there was nothing anyone could do for children like Anna.
“She is an utter inspiration. As a mum who has lost a child to the same condition I know how hard it is to get up some days.”
Maura Jackson is the CEO of Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme and Endeavour, and previously ran a domestic abuse charity in West London. Dianne Gilmore, who nominated Maura, said: “She has organised and participated in all our charity events. Quizzes, coffee mornings, sponsored bike rides and walks, charity sleep outs, she’s organised them all.
“Even her dog raised £560 doing a sponsored walk.”
Tracy McGarrie manages a Costa store in Newcastle, and has created a partnership with local charity Journey. Adam Bird, who nominated Tracy, said: “Clients from Journey volunteer in the Costa store and gain valuable life and work skills. This has led to people being offered paid work and making huge amounts of progress in their lives.
“Tracy also shaved her hair to raise money for the charity, and goes above and beyond every single day”
Father-of-three Dean Reilly, from Edinburgh, who has raised funds for the MS Society Scotland. Tommy Sheppard MP, who nominated Dean, said: “Dean is a young single dad with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). He works tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition and funds for the MS Society Scotland.
“Since his diagnosis in October 2012, he has been raising money through various challenges, including marathons, the Edinburgh Triathlon, the Mighty Deerstalker and various other mentally and physically draining challenges. Impressive for anyone to do these challenges, but even more impressive because Dean himself has multiple sclerosis.”
Jason Roberts, of Wakefield, has galvanised his team to raise funds for various charities through his work at Dixons Carphone, and has always thrown himself in at the deep end of activities.
Andrea Cooper, who nominated Jason, said: “Since taking over the running of the Team Knowhow Contact Centre, Jason has made a massive difference to how we look at charity fundraising – and this is demonstrated in the increase in funds raised. This amounts to tens of thousands of pounds as well as voluntary work manning helplines for national causes like Comic Relief.
“Jason isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty or join in with events. He knows that if an event is being run and it involves colleagues getting the chance to throw a wet sponge at him or sponsor him to do a challenge, lots of cash will be made.”
Kevin Webber, of Epsom, Surrey, is a husband and father-of-three who has raised more than £200,000 for Prostate Cancer UK since being diagnosed with the disease in 2014. He has taken part in an ultramarathon in the Sahara as well as races in Iceland, Spain and across the UK. In 2018 he plans to complete the Likeys Yukon 6633 Ultra – a gruelling challenge of 560 kilometres non-stop while pulling a sledge across the Arctic, in temperatures below -50c.
Alison McCall, who nominated Kevin, described him as “a truly inspiring individual”, adding that: “From almost day one of receiving his prognosis, Kevin has challenged himself to the utmost extremes. Kevin is an excellent raconteur, sharing his deeply moving story and his journey to date with numerous friends, colleagues and others impacted by this disease, raising awareness and educating people whilst also benefitting the charity through his considerable fundraising efforts and achievements.
“He is an amazing and inspirational person who has gone above and beyond to show extraordinary commitment to his charity and has inspired many individuals to challenge themselves whilst doing so.”
Ben Russell, Director of Communications at Charities Aid Foundation, said:
“We’re delighted to have received so many nominations. It’s now over to the judges to read about all the wonderful work each of these people have done, and choose the champion who will help inspire others to do something in support of a good cause this #givingtuesday.”