On Christmas Eve, Neil Perry completed his challenge of 30 nights sleeping outdoors in order to raise money for Romsey Mill.
He has raised about £7,500, more than doubling his initial aim. This includes £3,000 pledged by an anonymous donor-couple towards the end of the challenge. Romsey Mill's work is known to the donors but they were also inspired by the comments of over 130 donors online who left messages praising the work of Romsey Mill in addition to concluding that Neil was crazy.
Neil slept out in a number of places including St Philip's Church on Mill Road, Cambourne Church, the Abbey Stadium and Sawston Free Church, where he was joined by three friends who braved a night of snow. Neil also joined students for a sleep out on Parker's Piece towards the start of the challenge. While some of Romsey Mill's participants are vulnerably housed, Neil's challenge was not primarily about homelessness. Rather, he wanted to show the level of commitment of Romsey Mill to the people that it supports, and to recognise the genuine hardships and difficulties they face in their lives as a result of disadvantage in all its forms.
Summing up on 24th December, Neil said, 'I've come in from the cold for the last time! The morning after Night 30 and my Challenge is completed. Hooray. The last few nights were a combination of 'highs' and 'lows' - the lowest low being the temperature which dropped to -12! A great high was Night 29 spent singing carols and celebrating Christmas coming at the Bees in the Wall Pub in Whittlesford. Thank you to landlord Laurie, Marie, Rev Ruth, and all the Whittlesford locals who passed around the bucket and donated over £220 to add to my fundraising total. The good news is that we have exceeded the target of £3,000! A generous couple have matched the £3,000 target and so all together, to date, we have raised over £7,500. That is amazing. What has also been greatly encouraging is the number of smiles that my challenge has raised. The word used most frequently to describe the challenge is 'mad' but people have often said it whilst laughing out loud! Thanks to all who have left messages of encouragement and sponsored me so generously.'