At some point in the middle of the night, a gust of cold wind and a splash of icy rain hit my face and woke me up.
Not a leak in the roof, because there was no roof. I was in a sleeping bag, on a bedroll, on the terraces of the Emerald stadium at Headingley, home of Leeds Rhinos, and I wasn’t alone. Around 100 people were also trying to catch some shut-eye for Leeds Big Sleep 2018, a fundraising sleepout for St George’s Crypt, St Gemma’s Hospice and the Rhinos Foundation.
It was at this point that I questioned what on earth I was doing. My bones told me I was too old for sleeping out on the ground, my head was questioning why on earth I agreed to this but my heart was still saying, “Carry on, make a difference.”
Being editor of the YEP is a privilege and can open many doors. It means that I have been inside St George’s Crypt and been able to talk to the staff, and more importantly some of the guests, about their lives and the difference the Crypt has made, the same goes for St Gemma’s Hospice and for the Rhinos Foundation. With that privilege comes some responsibility and when Bob Bauman, the Chief Operating Officer of the Rhinos Foundation, asked me if I’d join the sleepout I didn’t hesitate to say yes. It wasn’t just duty that made me agree, but a genuine desire to be part of something that would have an impact. The (almost) £800 I’ve raised won’t change the world, but it will join other contributions to help change some lives in Leeds for the better.
One young woman there, Emily Austin, a student and Miss Leeds 2018, does lots of fundraising and had come alone to join the sleepout. She told me some of her friends asked her why she wanted to do it. Her reply to them: “Why don’t you want to do it?”. I love this answer, and her attitude.