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Charity Secret Santa Appeal

859. Courtney Hughes

Courtney Hughes, aged 19, from Didcot, has run her ‘Secret Santa’ Christmas charity appeal for the past five years, providing over £100,000 in gift donations for people in local hospitals, hospices and care homes.

After her great grandmother Elsie was admitted to hospital in December 2012, Courtney decided to bring gifts and decorations to people on her ward. Following her great grandmother’s death in March 2013, Courtney established a charity appeal to provide support to patients and vulnerable people across South Oxfordshire every year at Christmas. The number of gifts has increased from 650 in 2013, to 4,000 last year, with a team of 40 volunteers supporting her in collecting and distributing donated items across her local area. Last year Courtney was awarded a ‘British Citizen Award for Voluntary Service’ and was also the ‘Giving Tuesday’ champion.

Courtney received her award in a presentation from her local MP, Ed Vaizey, at the Houses of Parliament.

In a personal letter to Courtney, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

“Your ‘Secret Santa’ campaign has spread joy to hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people during the festive period. Your great grandmother Elsie would be incredibly proud of how you have given so many Christmas gifts in her memory. Due to your tireless commitment, the annual Christmas gift collection continues to grow in size and scale and is having a hugely positive effect on patients and vulnerable people across Oxfordshire.”

Ed Vaizey, MP for Didcot and Wantage, said:

“I have known Courtney for several years and am extremely pleased that her charity work has been recognised with this award from the Prime Minister.  I have seen first-hand the joy she brings at Christmas, delivering gifts to patients, and I am hugely proud of both Courtney and her ‘Secret Santa’ Charity.”

Courtney said:

“I am absolutely honoured to have been given this award. Hopefully by sharing ‘the gift of giving’ to others at Christmas will continue to inspire young people across the country to do something positive for those less fortunate in their communities.”


Courtney receiving her award from Ed Vaizey MP

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