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Plymouth BIG Sleepers’ success at Pentillie Castle

A group of generous and brave souls gave up their warm beds to sleep rough at Pentillie Castle last Friday night (3rd February) to raise funds and awareness of the support we provide for vulnerable and homeless veterans in Plymouth.

This was our first Alabaré BIG Sleep held in the Plymouth area.  During the evening participants heard from Commander Chris Thorpe, who chairs the Plymouth Ambassador group, on how the money raised will help homeless ex-Armed Forces personnel through Alabaré’s Plymouth Home for Veterans, and create new homes and opportunities for veterans taking part in the Veterans Self-Build Scheme at the Stirling project in Honicknowle, Plymouth (in partnership with Plymouth City Council and LiveWest).

One of the Veteran Self-Builders, Chris spoke from the heart when describing the huge difference the programme has made to his life and the sense of gratitude he feels in being able to have the confidence and opportunities to move forward in his life outside of the military.

After a blessing given by Rev Tim Wilkinson of HMS Drake Chaplaincy, participants also had the opportunity to gather around fit pits and chat while veteran Stefan Piotrowski shared an emotional mix of music and poetry, some detailing his own difficult journey with his mental well-being. They were also treated to some uplifting songs accompanied by the many participants blessed with wonderful singing voices.  While participants were lucky to have a dry and mild night, the hot bacon butties from the chefs of HMS Drake were most welcome. The reveille by bugler Richard Tilley to mark the beginning of the next day, and the official end of The BIG Sleep was incredibly moving.

We are hugely grateful to Pentillie Castle, and specifically to owners Sammie, Ted, Sarah and Marc, who have a long history of supporting the Armed Forces community, and proved themselves to be fabulous fundraisers.

Sammie says:

“We were delighted to be able to support Alabaré with their first Big Sleep in the area. As a family of keen campers, bivvying was a first for us, but the camaraderie among the BIG Sleepers was very special. We particularly enjoyed the opportunity to share relaxed and humbling conversations with some of the charity’s beneficiaries, and to really understand how Alabaré’s work helps those in need. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of those who donated on our Just Giving page, and must thank them wholeheartedly. Here’s to the next BIG Sleep!”

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and MP Johnny Mercer had hoped to join Alabaré’s BIG Sleep, but he was held back in London.  Nevertheless, Johnny Mercer sent a good luck message to all those sleeping rough, which was shared on the night with the participants.

Our Alabaré Events Manager Rebecca Mullen, says:

“It was fantastic to see so many people come together to help us end homelessness for veterans in Plymouth.  It just shows what a compassionate and generous community Plymouth is towards its veterans, and what a difference sleeping rough for just one night makes.  Our fundraisers have another month before they need to get their money to us and have already achieved over £30,000 which is amazing.  A huge thank you goes to everyone that helped make it happen, to the wonderful team at Pentillie Castle and those who donated.”

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