Teen up for national award for 24-hour charity gameathons

Jack Careem's 2019 gameathon raised over £3,000 for Children in Need - a feat he intends to match this weekend

Jack Careem's 2019 gameathon raised over £3,000 for Children in Need - a feat he intends to match this weekend - Credit: Su Careem

A dedicated student will join with a band of mates this weekend for a round-the-clock challenge in aid of BBC Children in Need.

Kicking off at 10.30am this Saturday (November 13) at Meppershall Village Hall, 14-year-old Jack Careem and 18 of his pals will take part in the 24-hour Gameathon, pitting themselves against each other and playing as a team through the night and into the next morning.

The Samuel Whitbread Academy student, who also attended Robert Bloomfield, launched the gameathon in 2017 as a one-off event, dusting off classic board games and powering up a variety of consoles in a challenge of sheer endurance.

The friends during their 24-hour gaming marathon in aid of Children in Need. Picture: Danny Loo

The friends during the inaugural 24-hour gaming marathon in aid of Children in Need back in 2017 - Credit: Archant

"It really stuck out to me that there are so many children out there who don't have the opportunity to play games and be with their friends, and be able to do these kinds of things," Jack told the Comet.

"If they can't do that, then we'll do it for them and raise the money so that they can hopefully do it, too - and so they can enjoy their lives as much as possible."

Off the back of this, Jack coined the #WEDOITSOTHEYCAN hashtag for his charity feats and the gameathon became an annual half term fixture, with more and more friends joining the crew.

He has also designed his own website dedicated to the challenge, which documents its growing success with each passing year. 

After taking a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, and delaying this year's challenge due to positive coronavirus tests, Jack is determined that he - along with the rest of his team - can come back bigger and better than ever to improve the lives of other children up and down the country.

Jack has set out to raise £3,002 - the amount he and his team managed to bring in back in 2019. To date, Jack's gameathons have raised more than £6,000 for BBC Children in Need.

Jack's annual 24-hour gameathons have amassed more than £6,000 for Children in Need

Jack's annual 24-hour gameathons have amassed more than £6,000 for Children in Need - Credit: Su Careem

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And for that very reason, Jack has made it to the final four for the Sir Terry Wogan Fundraiser of the Year award, which celebrates people who go above and beyond for Children in Need.

Jack will be interviewed by Michael Ball for his Radio 2 show on Sunday, after the gameathon is complete.

"It's such an honour to be nominated for the award. My mum actually put me forward for it," he said.

"We heard about it on the radio, both just looked at each other. I was nominated for it and it's now gone through the judging panel. There's still a little way to go, and I'm lucky enough to have been invited down to BBC Radio 2 to meet Michael Ball.

"When me, my mum and my dad are in the car, we always listen to Radio 2, especially when we go to see my grandparents as they live quite far away.

"To be able to be up there for something like this is amazing, because it's giving publicity and raising awareness for the cause as well."

Jack Careem and friends at the 2018 gameathon, which raised £2,000 for Children in Need

Jack Careem and friends at the 2018 gameathon, which raised £2,000 for Children in Need - Credit: Su Careem

Although Jack is the figurehead and driving force of the campaign, he admits that he couldn't do any of this alone.

"None of this would be possible without my team. They're such a great group of people, and I'm really happy at how well we've pushed to try and get donations."

Charlie Williams, Finley Hampson, Ivan Barnes, Ben Miles-Graham, Luke Stevenson, Joseph Stevenson, Daniel Bookbinder, George White, Benjamin Mercado, Beau Casey, Jake Racher, Harvey Carter, Daniel Batchelet, Kiera McGilley, Ben Springett, Owen Barnett, Zephyr MacGregor and Milo Nizzardi will join Jack for the gaming extravaganza.

Jack's mum Sue said: "As he gets older, he's got a lot more on his schedule. But every year, he wants to do this. It's definitely off his own back that he wants to start preparing early, doing all these schedules and timetables."

Even with his GCSEs on the horizon, Jack is determined to continue the gameathon's legacy, and plans to keep growing the charity fundraiser year on year.

RBA principal Sam Farmer said: “It’s been a privilege to watch Jack grow this competition from its very beginnings to the massive success story it represents today.

“We are all very proud of the achievements of Jack and his friends and the example they are setting for their peers, alongside the inspiration they are providing to younger students.”

Nick Martin, principal of Samuel Whitbread Academy, added: “It’s fantastic to see our students doing something for their community and raising well-earned funds for such an important charity, whilst enjoying themselves at the same time.”

Donations for Jack's 24-hour gameathon can be made via the JustGiving page.