2023’s most impressive fundraisers revealed

A 12-year old schoolboy who climbed a mountain, swam a mile and then cycled 75km in memory of his sister is among the winners of 2023’s JustGiving fundraisers of the year awards.

Harry Smith raised more than £29,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity after completing the feat, which saw him swim 64 lengths, climb England’s tallest mountain Scafell Pike and cycle home from Addenbrookes Hospital, a journey his sister was never able to make.

He has been named Young Fundraiser of the Year and was presented with his award in London this week by Made in Chelsea star Josh Patterson.

“Emily’s brain tumour was incurable, and this should not have been the case. Children should not die, they should have a future and a life ahead of them,” said Harry.

“My sister was only eight when she died, and I miss her so much every day and it hurts. It physically hurts.

“I chose the Brain Tumour Charity as they help fund research to find cures so that other children don’t have to suffer like Emily did. Everything I do is to raise money for research towards brain tumours and awareness of the underfunded deadly brain tumours like Emily’s. This award is for you Ems.”

Other finalists in this category were Seren Price, who at the age of five became the youngest person to complete the Three Peaks Challenge, by climbing the UK’s highest peaks, which includes Ben Nevis in Scotland and Snowdon in Wales. Her challenge saw her raise more than £7,300 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Another was Alba Stogden, who aged nine walked England’s coastline to raise £18,500 for mental health charities.

The winners of this year’s awards were selected through a public vote and the finalists were picked from more than 13,000 nominations by a panel of judges including Radio DJ Rickie Haywood-Williams, actress Angela Griffin, fundraiser Caroline Jones and Just Giving president and general manager Pascale Harvie.

“Harry’s story leaves me at a loss for words,” said Harvie.

“Seeing someone so young turn the devastating loss of his sister, Emily, into a way of helping others is absolutely astounding. Harry really is an extraordinarily brave and admirable young man and thoroughly deserves this fantastic recognition for what he has achieved in Emily’s memory.”

Other winners at this year’s awards, which was sponsored by GoCardless, include My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, which was named charity of the year after raising more than £2m and involving 38,000 people in its campaign Doddie Aid to end Motor Neuron Disease.

81-year-old retired army major Mick Stanley was named the most creative fundraiser for raising £11,000 for the charity Children on the Edge by building a boat made from corrugated iron, curtain hooks and a hosepipe. He managed to row this unlikely vessel for 125 miles.

Meanwhile, comedian Bill Bailey was named celebrity fundraiser of the year after raising £140,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support by walking 100 miles from Devon to Cornwall in memory of his friend the comedian Sean Lock who died from lung cancer in 2021.

Harvie added: “Celebrating the accomplishments of Harry and some of our other fundraisers and charities at the GoCardless JustGiving Award Ceremony was amazing - they should all be so proud of what they’ve achieved and the impact that they’ve had.”  

A full list of winners can be found here.

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