A Llanelli bus driver, who is known as ‘Mr Selfie’, has already hit his £1,000 target just 79 days into his year-long fundraiser.
Keith Thomas, who is originally from Swansea, set himself the challenge of taking a selfie every day for a year to raise funds for the Wales Air Ambulance. He did a similar challenge four years ago and raised £3,700 for Marie Curie.
As well as taking selfies, the grandfather-of-seven also took part in the Charity’s special 20th birthday fundraiser ‘My20’ with his wife, retired schoolteacher, Jane.
The Wales Air Ambulance celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 1 and to acknowledge the milestone, the Charity created a new fundraising event called My20. My20 allowed the participant to set themselves a challenge, task or activity that relates to the number ’20’ which they would complete during March.
Keith, who works for First Cymru, hoped to reach his fundraising target when he and his twin brother, Kevin, turn 60 on July 8.
Speaking about smashing his target, whilst taking on another challenge, Keith, said: “I was hoping to reach my target before I was 60, which is in July. I never imagined that I would raise £1,000 in 79 days. It is an awesome feeling, and every penny raised the rest of the year is a bonus.
“I was furloughed for two weeks, so rather than sit down and do nothing, my wife and I decided to walk 2 miles a day and complete 20 miles in 10 days for the My20 challenge. We completed it in nine days.”
Due to current government restrictions, Keith has had to adapt his selfie-taking to include the 2-metre rule and he has also contacted people to ask them to submit a selfie. Some of the celebrities happy to take part in this wonderful challenge include Coronation Street actors Will Mellor and Shobna Gulati, TV presenter Eamonn Holmes, rugby legends Jonathan Davies and Scott Quinnell, ITV Wales’ Kelsey Redmore, BBC Wales’ Claire Summers, weather presenters Sue Charles, Derek Brockway and Behnaz Akhgar, actress and radio presenter Sarah Champion and comedian Mike Doyle.
Keith, who is enjoying doing the selfie challenge, said: “The fundraiser I did for Marie Curie has been the most successful single campaign and it all came about with my love of taking photos. Doing the selfie challenge enabled me to involve so many people from a lot of different backgrounds; members of my family, friends, colleagues, members of the public, sports stars and celebrities.
“Everyone loved the challenge and so many people were excited to be involved. Even now, I have people asking me if they can have a selfie with me – that is my unofficial title – Mr Selfie!
“Despite current restrictions, I am determined to make my 2021 selfie challenge a success for the Wales Air Ambulance. The air ambulance is a great cause, and I am proud to be able to do my bit. Thank you to everyone who has answered my plea and submitted a selfie for me to use.”
Mr Selfie had set himself the target of raising £1,000 and has already raised £1,025. He is using the hashtag #selfie365me.
Speaking about why he has chosen the Wales Air Ambulance, he said: “I believe the air ambulances are such a crucial addition to the emergency services. I have seen them in action when my stepson played rugby. They have attended teammates of his on two occasions and were so fantastic at what they did.
“So many lives are saved because of the swift action of our medical services and the air ambulance is the ultimate enhancement of their incredible work.”
The former plumber was forced to have a career change after his ill health made it impossible to continue in that profession. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2008, which resulted in him being rushed into hospital four years ago and having major surgery to remove his bowel.
Speaking of his health problems, Keith said: “I had a very serious flare-up and I was given the appropriate information regarding my next options and I decided that it would be best for me to live with a stoma for the rest of my life. I have had no regrets. I have been able to regain my life and I have dedicated my time to be the best driver I can be, whilst raising awareness for people living with hidden disabilities and fundraising for different charities along the way.”
The upbeat bus driver has received accolades, such as Best Driver in the Wales Transport Awards and a silver award in the UK Bus Awards in 2019.
Wales Air Ambulance South Wales fundraising co-ordinator, Jane Griffiths, said: “Congratulations to Keith on reaching his target during his third month of fundraising. Also, a huge thank you to him and Jane for taking part in this month’s My20 Challenge. Their continued support, especially during this milestone year, is much appreciated.
“If there is one person that can guarantee a selfie a day, it would have to be ‘Mr Selfie’. He has had some fabulous selfies with well-know people already.
“Keith is proving it is a fun challenge and I look forward to seeing who else supplies him with a selfie. Please show Keith your continued support and help him raise much-needed funds to keep our 24/7 lifesaving service up and running.”
You can show your support to Mr Selfie by taking a selfie and donating via his Just Giving page Keith’s 2021 Selfie challenge. www.justgiving.com/fundraising/keith-thomas32
You can follow Mr Selfie via his Twitter page @keiththom2014 or his Facebook page Keith’s 2021 Selfie challenge.