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TTG Top 50
April 25, 2019 | The Vox Birmingham | #TTGTop50

Sophie Baker, Oyster Travel, Norwich: Community Hero

This new category was introduced for 2019 to recognise an agent or an agency that has worked hard to give back to and support local communities. The winner was chosen from a shortlist of five very worthy finalists, nominated by the TTG journalist team.

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The whole team at this Norwich-based agency is dedicated to supporting their local community, but manager Sophie Baker has made a quite extraordinary commitment to raising money for charity.

In the last year, she has completed a Tough Mudder challenge and also the Three Peaks Challenge (going back to do it a second time as she didn’t get the time she hoped on one leg of the trek).

She was solely responsible for organising a charity ball for local Norfolk charity Nelson’s Journey, after a little girl “who was like family to her” died aged just four years old.

Sophie also embarked on a 67-mile walk from Norwich to Cambridge to raise cash for the East Anglia Air Ambulance after her friend’s mum suffered a brain aneurysm and needed to use the service, and following her friend’s diagnosis of breast cancer, Sophie decided to get on her bike and complete the London to Paris bike ride for Women V Cancer, raising almost £1,500.

She fundraised for the British Heart Foundation after losing her dad to a heart attack, and she also encouraged her team to raise cash for Abta LifeLine and Macmillan Cancer.

In total, Sophie raised £11,000 last year, and her efforts have not gone unnoticed, with the intrepid fundraiser being named Norwich City FC’s Community Hero in 2018 – and being invited to place the ball on the pitch for kick-off at a match.

Also shortlisted for this award were four other incredible companies and individuals:

  • Business travel agency Diversity Travel – which has set up a new foundation in Uganda to fund a mental health service, committing £25,000 per year for the next three years.
  • Graeme Brett of Westoe Travel, South Shields – who has given extraordinary support to the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust, and has taken 100 football shirts to Kenya.
  • Thorne Travel, Kilwinning – which raised more than £10,000 for Cash For Kids last year, alongside giving out more than 2,000 Christmas presents and many other initiatives.
  • Travel Counsellors – which chose Reuben’s Retreat as its charity of the year for 2018, and raised a staggering £100,000 through a variety of challenges, and £28,000 in just one day as part of a 23-hour “Reu-athon”.
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