Unhappy childhood inspired Swansea man to raise cash for Children in Need

A self-employed Big Issue seller is raising funds for Children in Need through a week-long series of wacky stunts – inspired by his own unhappy childhood.

Andy George-Thomas, 29, says every child deserves a childhood, something he says he largely missed out on a he moved between foster carers.

The Swansea High View resident, who sells the Big Issue to shoppers from his Quadrant Shopping Centre pitch, has worn fancy dress, taped his mouth shut to ensure he stayed silent for the day and will even have his arms, legs and chest waxed as he aims to raise a bucket full of cash for Pudsey.

Andy said: “I’m determined to raise as much as I can for Children in Need. I’m also donating 50p from every copy of the Big Issue I sell throughout the week. I buy the Big Issue at £1.25 a copy and sell it for £2.50. I am fully self employed and don’t claim benefits.

“I just feel sorry for children that have to suffer through disability or poverty. I had ADHD as a child and just couldn’t concentrate. I was classed as a naughty child as it wasn’t a recognised or treatable condition then.

“My mum, bless her, couldn’t cope and I ended up in respite and being moved between foster carers. It meant I had to grow up quickly and I feel I never really had a childhood.

“But every child should be able to look back and think they enjoyed a time when they didn’t have to worry about things and when they could play and not have to be grown up.”

Lindy Emms, Deputy Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “Andy is such a cheerful man and he’s so well known to regular visitors to the Quadrant which means just about everyone in Swansea City Centre.

“It’s wonderful; that he is doing something for Children in Need – he, more than most, knows what a worthwhile charity it is.”

And Andy says he has already had lots of support from his regular Quadrant Shopping Centre customers.

He said: “I’ve raised more than £50 after two days but I really want to get to £500 by the end of the week. I’m having my waxing done at the Quadrant Church on Friday.

“I have lots of regular customers and enjoy chatting to people at the Quadrant. I’m Swansea born and bred  and love it here. It’s rare I get any grief from people but occasionally someone will tell you to get a job.

“What loads of people don’t understand is that selling the Big Issue is my full time job. I’ve done it for around 15 years now and have really good loyal customers.

“I just think it’s really important to raise money for things like Children in Need, the children need all the help they can get.”

Big Issue Cymru Sales Outreach Worker Claire Millar says everyone involved with the Big Issue is proud of Andy’s fundraising for Children in Need.

She said: “It’s fantastic what he is doing and I have nothing but admiration for his efforts. He wants to give something back and he’s going about it in a lovely way.

“He’s a long-time Big Issue seller and fully self-employed. I just think that it’s lovely he’s putting in so much effort in raising funds for Children in Need. He’s a cracking guy and deserves a real pat on the back.”

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