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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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180 brave elements for winter warmth appeal's Big Sleep

Cowboy stew came to the rescue of 180 hardy souls who braved a cold night of camping to raise funds for the county’s Winter Warmth Appeal.

Low Wood Hotel general manager Nevil Jeffrey threw together ingredients to provide warm food for those braving a night under the stars at Windermere, when an outside caterer pulled out just hours before people were due to arrive for the charity sleepover.

The Big Sleep adventurers were collecting cash for Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Fund, which raises money for older people in the county struggling to heat their homes.

One of the youngest braving the cold was seven-year-old Eleanor Parry, whose father Richard is director of adult social care at Cumbria County Council.

Mr Parry, from Brampton, said: “I picked up a Big Sleep leaflet at work. Eleanor saw it and was keen to do it. It has been important for her, learning that there are people out there less fortunate than herself.

“Eleanor has been camping so that isn’t really new to her – she is a hardy soul – but we’ve never camped in the Lakes in February.

“It was a really good atmosphere. Some people slept under the stars but most people, I think, were in tents.

“We all sat together watching The Goonies film on a big screen and that was great fun. It wasn’t too cold.”

Eleanor is planning to share her experience with classmates at Hayton Primary School, after half term.

She said: “I liked watching the film and the food was nice. I really liked the hot chocolate.

“It was a bit cold, colder than what I was expecting really.”

And it wasn’t just at Low Wood that people showed their support for the charity.

Half a dozen girls from the 1st Wetheral Brownies helped the cause by holding their own sleep-out in the village because they weren’t able to make it to Windermere. Their efforts raised just over £240.

Former Cumbria chief constable Stuart Hyde was also among those to brave temperatures of around three degrees in the field next to the Low Wood.

He chose not to sleep in a tent, opting instead for a sleeping bag inside a bivvy bag, managing to snatch around four hours sleep before waking up around 6am.

Community Foundation chief executive Mr Beeforth said: “It was good for them to experience the cold which is part of the emphasis of the Winter Warmth Fund.

“Very sadly there are people who have to struggle every day just to keep warm.”

Before Saturday’s event about £7,500 in donations had already been pledged to participants.

The oldest known person to take part was 70 years old. Others taking part included Copeland MP Jamie Reed, chef Peter Sidwell and News & Star editor David Helliwell.

This year’s Winter Warmth Fund hopes to raise £100,000.

An average of 300 deaths occur in Cumbria each year due to the effects of cold weather.

n Donations can be made online at www.cumbriafoundation.org.

Cheques to the Cumbria Community Foundation can be sent to the charity’s offices at Dovenby Hall, Dovenby, Cockermouth, CA13 0PN with ‘Winter Warmth Fund’ written on the back.

You can also donate using your mobile phone. Send a text message to 70070 including the code WINT37 and a monetary amount. For example: WINT37 £5.

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