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Actor Henry Winkler has won £40,000 (US$56,000) for an education charity in a radio competition.

The former Happy Days star was chosen in a public vote for the “Who’s Calling Christian?” competition on Absolute Radio in the UK, in which people had to get stars to call the station in order to win £20,000 for themselves, and £40,000 for the charity of the celebrity’s choice.

“I’m just so grateful to everyone who voted for me… and you can all start your weekend knowing you’ve done a very good thing,” said Winkler on Friday. “The Teaching Awards really deserve it. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to win this for teachers.”

Winkler chose the Teaching Awards Trust – which recognizes inspirational teachers – as the recipient of the prize money. Winkler is a patron of the Trust, and an ambassador for excellence in education.

“It’s the teachers that make the difference; there is nothing more important than getting a good education,” said Sophie Byatt, managing director of the Teaching Awards Trust. “It’s the key to helping young people grow up to lead happy and fulfilled lives and it is the teachers that achieve this. We don’t thank teachers enough for the essential work that they do, the Teaching Awards gives us all a chance to say thank you.”

Winkler was up against celebrities such as Simon Cowell and William Shatner in the competition.

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