On Saturday night, 160 eager fundraisers gave up their warm homes for a cold and wet night under the stars so that older people don’t have to suffer the cold.
The Big Sleep is an annual event organised by the Foundation to raise money for their Winter Warmth Appeal, which supports older people in Cumbria who struggle to pay their heating and fuel bills in the winter months.
This year, the refurbishment of the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel gave campers the unique opportunity to sleep right beside the lake rather than on the hill behind the hotel.
Little Sleepers enjoyed shadow puppetry with storyteller Ian Douglas and there was a family movie and live music from the Sessionistas, and JC & the Moonshine band. Calderwood House kept campers warm with their speciality coffee and English Lakes Hotels provided the evening meal and breakfast rolls in the morning.
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive of the charity, said: “We couldn’t be happier with the number of people that turned out to support the Big Sleep. Our campers have so far raised more than £15,000 and this money will make a huge difference enabling us to continue our work, helping older people within our community.
“Extra funding is always great but awareness is even better and we want people to understand what fuel poverty is and how it affects people. The money raised will be used to provide grants to some of the poorest, most vulnerable older people in the county. Thank you to everyone who took part or supported the participants.”
The appeal has already distributed £120,000 this winter to help older people heat their homes during the colder weather.
Peter, Victoria and Nathaniel Morgan of Penrith, took part in the Big Sleep for the first time. Victoria said: “We have friends who have done the Big Sleep before so were inspired by others who have done it. We’re literally sleeping out under the stars as we have only brought an overhead shelter in case it rains. This is a unique opportunity to sleep out right next to Lake Windermere.”
Jayne Williamson, Diane McCormick and Jill Tweddle from Carlisle were sleeping out to mark a special milestone. They said: “As old school friends who are all approaching 50, we decided to do something for 50 charities this year and the Big Sleep is the first. Sleeping under the stars was on our bucket list and when we heard about the Big Sleep we thought – what better way to do it?”
Sian Whittlemore, of Ulverston, took part with her partner Paul Baxendale and their three children Iona, six, Izak, nine, and Owen, 13. Sian said: “The kids absolutely love the idea of camping out in the cold and having a laugh throughout the night. It’s something that we really enjoy doing together as a family.
“They have been telling their friends and teachers about it all week and they understand that this is helping older members of our community that often have to choose between heating and eating. People should be safe in their own homes and this is an important way to raise awareness for the older members of our community.”
A team of five from Lambert Smith Hampton also took part. Richard Platt, Head of Lambert Smith Hampton’s South Cumbria office, said: “It was a cold night but we wanted to support the valuable work that the Cumbria Community Foundation, does so we decided to wrap up, brave the weather and join in with the Big Sleep. And we’re pleased we did because the LSH team managed to raise nearly £700 to help the charity keep older people in Cumbria warm and well during the cold winter months.”
Also braving the cold was Dave Henderson, Business Manager at Cumbria Nuclear Solutions Ltd. He said: “We are pleased to be supporting such a worthy cause. This is our first year here but it won’t be our last. There is a great atmosphere and everyone has a smile which is great.
“Our companies support CCF in a number of ways but things like this are a great way to raise awareness of an important issue and have a chance to do something different.”
You can still donate towards the Winter Warmth Appeal. Visit http://www.cumbriafoundation.org/winter-warmth-fund/give-to-the-winter-warmth-fund or phone 01900 825760.
You can also send a text message to 70070 including the code WINT37. You can donate £2, £5 or £10. e.g. WINT37 £5 to 70070.
Or you can send a cheque to: ‘Cumbria Community Foundation’ and write ‘Winter Warmth’ on the back. Send it to: Cumbria Community Foundation, Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, Cumbria, CA13 0PN.