I’m sure that everyone who reads the Herald has heard of Ray Collins but I wanted to review all the good work that he and his team have done and continue to do.
Ray received a British Citizen Award in 2016 but has been fundraising for charity seriously since 2006 when he did 12 hours non-stop on a cross trainer and lost four toenails in the process.
Since then he has done an Iron Man event in 2007, a 24-hour workout in the gym in 2008, a quadruple triathlon in 2009, an 80-mile non-stop walk around Wantage and villages in 2010 and a 24-hour non-stop workout in the gym in 2011.
In 2012 he organised a Decathlon fun day in Wantage to encourage others to join the fund raising and in 2013 he organised a walk from the King Alfred statue in Winchester to our own statue in Wantage and revived the Wantage Carnival.
He also organised the Race for Life in Wantage to support Breast Cancer charities from 2011 for 5 years.
The money raised from these events was used to fund makeovers of the October Club, Charlton and Grove Day Centres and the gardens of Stirlings Care home as well as to support local charities.
Then he started bringing the focus nearer to home: supporting the relief of loneliness and poverty of elderly and vulnerable people, and assisting sick, disabled, injured and needy people in Wantage and surrounding villages.
Since 2014 he and his team have been organising Christmas hampers for the vulnerable and lonely and Easter Eggs for all the local day centres, Fitzwaryn special school, Oxford Children’s Hospital, Ronald MacDonald House, Sobell House Hospice and A&E wards.
They are now a registered charity (Ray Collins Charitable Trust) and Ray and his fellow Trustees (Kathleen McCormack, Laura Beale, Phillip Tynan, Melanie Breakspear, Robert Huffnagle and Robin Bolton) organise a number of regular events during the year including Christmas Day and Easter Sunday dinners, day trips and outings as well as supporting needy families with home or garden makeovers.
In the last few years they have been to Bournemouth, Blenheim and Waddesdon Manor with the elderly and their carers and to Cotswold Wildlife Park and Southsea with vulnerable families.
To raise funds and bring people together, they organise an annual Blingo (bingo with bling), regular quizzes and the annual Wantage Carnival as well as other events.
Their next big project will be announced soon.