1083. Dave Cooke
Dave Cooke, from Wrexham, launched the Christmas shoebox appeal in 1990, which has seen over 100 million boxes of aid distributed to disadvantaged children worldwide.
Dave began the appeal to provide aid for Romanian orphans following the fall of Ceausescu’s regime, working with friends to lead a convoy carrying £600,000 worth of donated items. Following this success, Dave established ‘Operation Christmas Child’ to provide further humanitarian aid to communities in Eastern Europe. After 16 years working with the charity, which merged with American charity ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ in 1995, Dave launched ‘Teams4U’ in 2006, which continues to support children in Eastern Europe through shoebox appeals whilst also providing education and healthcare support to communities in Uganda and Sierra Leone. The charity delivers educational programmes through vocational colleges, supporting more than 25,000 children in Uganda to learn a trade and basic skills, alongside a programme providing sanitary wear and menstrual health education to schoolgirls in the country to encourage them to stay in education.
Dave received his award from his local MP Ian Lucas and Lesley Griffiths AM (pictured).
In a personal letter to Dave, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“The Christmas shoebox appeal you pioneered has such a positive impact on the lives of many children. Your success in growing the annual appeal to deliver millions of boxes to disadvantaged children worldwide is a truly outstanding achievement. You should be very proud of your continued work through ‘Teams4U’, which is making a real difference for communities in Uganda and Sierra Leone in helping lift children out of poverty.”
Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham, said:
“I’m delighted to hear Dave has been honoured for his work. He has worked tirelessly to support disadvantaged children across the world and I can’t think of anyone who deserves the award more. Congratulations, Dave!”
“I feel honoured and privileged to accept this award on behalf of all the amazing volunteers who are the lifeblood of our charity and without whom we couldn’t function.”