Egremont man earns Male of the Year title

By Rachael Grealish
SCHOOL governor, full-time worker, carer, father of two, fundraiser and now West Cumbria’s Male of the Year 2016.

Man of the moment: Mark Andrews - West Cumbria Male of the Year 2016 - photo by Robert Haile

Man of the moment: Mark Andrews – West Cumbria Male of the Year 2016 – photo by Robert Haile

 

Egremont born and bred, Mark Andrews, 52, has been named C N Group’s West Cumbria Community Heroes Male of the Year 2016.

Mark started fundraising in 2000 for the West Cumberland Hospital Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) after his son was born premature.

Fast forward 16 years and Mark is involved with several charities in the local area, including Danica’s Dream Fund (DDF) and the Charlie and Kathleen Dunnery Children’s Fund (CKDCF).

Over the years Mark has been responsible for organising events, fundraising and raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity.

He said: “I first started fundraising when Matthew [his son] was in the SCBU – I managed to raise over £2,000 and it just sort of when from there.”

Next he was asked to get involved with the CKDCF, by former school-friend and It Bites front man, Francis Dunnery.

He said: “Frank got in touch with me after his Mam died and told me he wanted to set up a charity in his parents’ name and asked if I could help – that was nearly 15 years ago and now the charity donates thousands to local charites each year.”

Mark got involved with the DDF after the tragic death of 15-year-old Danica Maxwell.

Mark explained: “John [Danica’s father] and I went to school together – but we lost touch afterwards. Then when Danica died and I heard John was setting up a charity in her name I offered to help in any way I could.”

For both charities Mark organises and takes part in events to raise money for them, all year round.
Just some of the fundraising activities he does is: the DDF wristbands, sponsored walks, charity quizzes, fun days, and football matches and even an icy cold New Year’s Eve dips in the harbour.

Mark said: “If I can think of something, like an event, that can help the charities it’s great and I’ll do it.”

Not only an avid fundraiser, Mark is also a St Bridget’s Primary School governor, has a full-time job, shares the caring duties of his aging father with his sister, a father of two and an accomplished artist.

So how does he manage it all?

He explained: “I just try to find a balance and do little bits each day. It’s all worth it though in the end – especially when I’m doing something for kids and you see their little faces light up.”

One of these moments happens each year when the CKDCF donate over 200 selection boxes and other gifts to the Children’s ward at the RVI, in Newcastle.

Another was during the summer, this year, when Mark spent 24 hours, over two weeks, painting a mural in St Bridget’s school’s new computer room.

With some of his fundraising Mark isn’t on his own – he recruits the help of his two children: Matthew, 16 and Evie, 14.

“They’re just brilliant, so helpful and they don’t complain – they want to help the charities and they’re both very big parts of the CKDCF and DDF – Matthew even controls the social media and website for the CKDCF, and they both helped me plan the new route for the walk this year.

“I like to think the charity work they do is character building.”

He wasn’t the only one singing praises, his children said: “We were extremely proud to hear about our dad being awarded the Male of the Year award for his hard work with local charities.

“He takes pride in helping others, and so it is fantastic that he has been recognised for his dedication.

“Our dad has been working in support of local charities since he first started raising money for the SCBU at West Cumberland Hospital in 2000.

“Since then, he has continued to work,without complaint, to fundraise for, and raise awareness of, other causes; his efforts have ranged from holding fundraising race nights and taking part in the New Year’s Eve dip to sitting in a bath of baked beans, and enlisting the support of celebrities.”

Mark was nominated for the award by Copeland Mayor Mike Starkie.

Mike said: “I was delighted to put forward Mark Andrews for this much deserved award, his charitable work in the communities has resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds being raised.

“ I cant think of anyone who deserves this recognition more, a view that is shared by the public faces of these two charities Francis Dunnery and John Maxwell and no doubt many others who are all to aware of the effort Mark commits for the benefit of others.”

Mark has recently assisted in raising £10,000 for the CKDCF, over one weekend in October.

Francis Dunnery said: “I think Mark Andrews deserves this award hands down. He’s the most selfless individual I have ever met. Constantly working on behalf of others who are less fortunate than the rest of us.

“I cannot speak about Mark Andrews highly enough. He’s an amazing human being”

Mark will taking part in the Whitehaven New Years eve dip, to raise money for the DDF- anyone who would like to donate can visit: everyclick.com/danicasdreamfund