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Enabling sporting dreams

440. Chris Read

The founder of a charity has raised over £800,000 and helped over 2,000 disabled and disadvantaged children get into sport.

Chris Read, from Barnard Castle, County Durham, set up the charity A Smile for A Child six years ago while on sabbatical from his role working at a supermarket. He had 6 months off work and wanted to do something important with his time. He had run many marathons (now 109) for lots of different charities, so decided to set up his own to give something back. The charity gives out small grants of between £500 and £1000, with bigger grants given if, for example, a wheelchair is needed.

Chris is passionate about the charity and believes every child helped is a success story. It enables children or clubs to buy much needed sports equipment so they can participate and progress in sports other children take for granted. This can be a simple walking frame at £300 to a sports wheelchair at £3000 that results in changing a child’s life.

A Smile for a Child work with event organisers Great Run to encourage supporters to fundraise for the charity. The partnership allowed them to start fundraising with just 5 places for each race and they have now grown to having 35 places in this year’s Great North Run.

Chris has just completed his most recent fundraising effort, which was a task to complete 50 challenges before his 50th birthday. Challenges ranged from fasting to marathons and raised over £50,000 for the charity. His most difficult challenges were running a marathon along the Great Wall of China and a half-marathon in the Sahara Desert.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Chris’s work to make sport accessible for all has given more children the chance to achieve their sporting dreams. He has raised an impressive amount of money himself and also inspired many others to support “A Smile for a Child” so the charity can help even more children. I am delighted to recognise Chris as the UK’s 440th Point of Light.”

Chris said:

“It is wonderful to be given this award. I thoroughly enjoy doing the fundraising for A Smile for a Child and it’s even better to then give that money away to buy much needed equipment for disabled children in the UK .”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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