A severely disabled 13-year-old boy who raised £250,000 to help save an outdoor activity centre has had his efforts recognised by the prime minister.
Oliver Voysey suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury when he was just two days old, which left him with sight loss, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and learning difficulties.
A regular visitor to the Calvert Lakes outdoor centre, run by the Lake District Calvert Trust, Oliver made it his “biggest birthday wish” to save the charity when it warned it may not reopen after lockdown, having lost a million pounds in revenue.
Oliver with mum Sarah and sister Elizabeth
He completed a series of themed challenges in the run-up to his 13th birthday, which left Prime Minister Boris Johnson “in awe”.
Mr Johnson told him in a letter: “I was lost in awe hearing about your phenomenal fundraising appeal to help the activity centre you love.
“Through your campaign, you are helping so many other disabled people enjoy an exciting host of activities such as canoeing, abseiling and horse riding at the Lake District Calvert Trust.”
Oliver’s mum, Sarah, said receiving “such a personalised letter was quite something”.
“It’s nice for him to have that public recognition,” she said. “It came at such a nice time as he has really been struggling with anxiety during lockdown, which has been quite debilitating.”
She said Calvert Lakes has given the family experiences “we didn’t think were possible”.
“When we returned to the centre for the first time since lockdown, it was just like coming home.
“Oliver’s struggles and anxiety just melted away. He had been struggling to talk to people, but soon was zipping up and down the zip wire and going on the high ropes course.
“His disability is reduced when we are there.”
Oliver is the 1,693rd person to receive the prime minister’s daily Points of Light award, first launched in April 2014.
Oliver Voysey, pictured with mum Sarah, describes the centre near Keswick as his ‘happy place’
Oliver’s challenges, which were supported by the whole family including 10-year-old sister Elizabeth, included walking on a treadmill for 13 minutes and standing independently for 13 seconds.
Ms Voysey said they gave Oliver a “sense of pride that he has not experienced before”.
The family originally hoped for donations in the region of £25,000 and were “just amazed” to reach ten times their original goal.
Oliver, 13, is the 1,693rd person to receive the prime minister’s award.
The pandemic has resulted in a devastating loss of income for charities, with some fundraising activities severely restricted.
Fundraising manager at the Lake District Calvert Trust, Jennifer Scott, said: “Please don’t ever underestimate the difference you can make to the many thousands of children and adults with disabilities that benefit from a visit to the Lake District Calvert Trust.
“Any legacy, large or small, can make a lasting difference to their lives.”