Young secret Santa is 2016 #givingtuesday champion

1 November 2016
A young secret Santa who helps brighten up Christmas for thousands of people in hospitals and care homes has been chosen as the UK face of #givingtuesday 2016.

Courtney 2016 givingtuesday champion

Courtney Hughes, 18, from Oxfordshire, will help front the global day of giving which calls for people to do something good on Tuesday, 29 November – four weeks today.

Five years ago, with her great grandmother unwell over the festive period, Courtney decided to use her pocket money to take Christmas to the hospital. Inspired by seeing other patients away from their loved ones, she started a local campaign to collect Christmas gifts for people spending that time of year in hospitals, hospices and care homes.

Since then her campaign has gone from strength to strength. Working with charities, schools and businesses she collected, wrapped and distributed 4,000 presents last year. Courtney also helps to collect and deliver food parcels to homeless people and emergency refuges.

Courtney’s charitable efforts saw her chosen as this year’s UK #givingtuesday champion by a panel of judges which included Paul Stanworth, Assistant Editor at BBC Newsbeat; Mika Simmons, actress and founder of Gynaecological Cancer Fund’s Lady Garden campaign; Zoe Parkinson from Vice Magazine; Mike Buonaiuto, CEO of social change company Shape History; and last year’s winner Andrew Davies.

She will now help inspire others to do something in support of a good cause this #givingtuesday.

The international campaign, led in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), encourages people to ‘do good stuff’ for causes they care about following the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year it broke a Guinness World Record for the most online donations in 24 hours and was the top trending item on Twitter, with support from celebrities including JK Rowling, Lily Allen and Gary Lineker.

#givingtuesday champion Courtney Hughes said:

“It is a real honour to have been chosen and something I never expected, especially seeing the stories of the other candidates who were shortlisted.

“It has made it all the more special to me that I found out I had been picked to be the #givingtuesday champion on what would have been my great-grandmother’s birthday.

“#givingtuesday is a great way of getting people involved in supporting charities and helping others and I’m really looking forward to being a part of it.”

Hannah Terrey, Head of Policy and Campaigns at CAF, said:

“Courtney is a fantastic example of what #givingtuesday is all about.

“This is a day to shine a light on the countless good deeds people do every day to make life that bit better for others.

“From a young age Courtney has made a remarkable contribution in spreading festive cheer among people going through times of difficulty.

“With this year’s #givingtuesday just four weeks away, we hope Courtney’s story can inspire others to make a difference and show their support for a good cause on the day.”

Notes to Editors

  1. #givingtuesday now runs in over 70 countries around the world including the US, Canada, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Australia, Tanzania, Russia and Ireland.  Charities and businesses can sign up to be part of the event at or connect via Twitter and Facebook.


  2. In the UK it is backed by around 1,400 partners including Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Financial Times, Royal Mail, London Zoo, Sue Ryder, Cancer Research UK, the RSPCA and the NSPCC.


  3. Last year the event was the top trend on Twitter throughout the day with more than 100,000 mentions using #givingtuesday. Celebrities and politicians including Stephen Fry, JK Rowling, Emma Watson, Miranda Hart, Gary Lineker, Lily Allen, David Baddiel, Peter Andre, David Tennant and Jeremy Corbyn backed the day.


  4. #givingtuesday 2015 broke a Guinness World Record for the most online donations in 24 hours as people gave away £35 million to good causes globally.  Online donations raised £6,000 a minute for UK charities with more than 1,400 charities and businesses connecting with the movement which reached hundreds of thousands of people.


  5. The Charities Aid Foundation, which leads #givingtuesday in the UK, is one of the largest charitable foundations in Europe. CAF provides financial services to support charities and manages donations on behalf of wealthy philanthropists, 2,500  businesses and more than 250,0000 people.
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