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Teesside's business leaders sleep rough to help the homeless
SOME of the region’s most successful business leaders gave up their luxurious homes for the night to sleep rough in a good cause at the weekend.
The captains of industry from across the Tees Valley were joined by more than 100 others in a second event at Middlesbrough College.
All the one-night rough sleepers were trying to raise thousands of pounds for homeless charities and awareness of the issue.
At the first sleep-out at Middlesbrough FC’s Ayresome Gates at the Riverside Stadium about 30 chief executives and business leaders huddled together in sleeping bags and tried to keep warm with the occasional hot drink.
Andy Preston, chairman of the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, helped organise what he called “a local event of national significance” which took place from 8pm on Saturday to 8am on Sunday.
It is thought to be only the second chief executive sleep-out to have taken place in the UK.
Mr Preston’s tweets through the night were featured on The Northern Echo website and read by thousands.
“Three of the lads snored like lions and the rest of us didn’t get a wink,” he said.
“But it was genuinely cold. Most of us were on our feet through the night.
"Of course we realised this was nothing like really being on the streets, just a taste, that’s all.
"A lot of people taking part don’t get much time to themselves and their families, so giving up that time really hurts them.
"But at the end they all said, ‘put me down for next year.’ The feedback from everyone has been staggering.”
Mr Preston was joined by Stewart Smith, 62, executive chairman of Ramsdens Financial Ltd, pawnbrokers.
Asked if he was worried about the cold, he said: “I’m not as soft as I look,” before saying it was clearly in an excellent cause.
At Middlesbrough College, principal Mike Hopkins joined other staff, students, councillors and concerned members of the public to help the cause.
Stockton borough councillor Mark Chatburn took part and tweeted about the event.
Like many others he commented on the friendly atmosphere as people did their best to bed down for the night.
“It’s cold, damp and it breaks my heart that some people have no choice but to do this every single night,” he said.
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