Business leaders swapped their laptops for sleeping bags as they slept rough for the night to raise £40,000 towards a new not-for-profit Teesside restaurant that will give job opportunities to the long-term unemployed.
The Victorian Street at Preston Park Museum played host to 59 businessmen and women as part of CEO Sleepout, a national fundraising phenomenon that began on Teesside.
Proceeds from the event will go towards funding the Fork in the Road, a new high-quality restaurant that will be based on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough, though the exact location remains a secret.
The eaterie will provide catering jobs for recovering addicts and alcoholics, those who have suffered from homelessness and ex-offenders.
Led by Teesside businessman and charity leader Andy Preston, the CEO Sleepout charity has already raised around £800,000 to fight homelessness and poverty around the country.
Since the first CEO Sleepout at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium in 2013, business leaders have slept rough at a range of landmark venues including Wembley Stadium, The Oval, Cardiff Castle, Newcastle’s St James Park, Birmingham’s Villa Park and Everton FC’s Goodison Park in Liverpool. 15% of all profits from non-Teesside events comes back here and will play a big part in the restaurant project.
Tees Business magazine editor Martin Walker of Mantis Media and DNA PR & Publicity owner Dave Allan organised the Preston Park event before joining their fellow businesspeople on the sleepout, including Nigel Willis, managing director of Redcar’s First Choice Labels, Ian Stark, chief executive officer of Middlesbrough firm Chemoxy International, Fr Paul Farrer of Middlesbrough Youth Mission and Duncan Bannatyne’s former wife, WattFitness owner Joanne McCue.
Others who took part included all four directors of Stokesley firm Applied Integration, Barry and Dave Atkins of Thornaby test equipment business Pass, Simon Wake and Nik Tunley of the Endeavour Partnership, Craig Rye, director of Stockton logistics firm InBond and Claire Preston, chief executive of Sound Training, the recently crowned North East Small Business of the Year.
They were joined by managerial staff from MI Supplies, Altec Engineering, Tilly Bailey and Irvine, Barclays Middlesbrough, CSI Training and Events, Tapered Plus, Industrial Marine Hydraulics, Teesside Recovery Advocates, Bespoke Financial, CR Communications, SockMonkey Studios, Cornerstone Business Solutions, Remember Me Tearooms, Emmerson Marketing, Six Fields UK, Sun Patch, 90 Second Story, Unasys, Oliver’s Fish and Chips, Evolution Tax Advisors, Agile Group, Eldon Financial Planning, Stockton Council, Mandale Group, Ashbank Laundry Centre, Bellissimi Beauty, Tad Web Solutions, Boho Print, Vintage Chartered Financial Planners, bSoftware Solutions, Quality Hydraulics, Sign Design GB, the Creative Alchemist, Gossip Magazine.
Dave said: “It’s nothing like what homeless people have to endure every night, but it was a cold, uncomfortable and sleepless night that gave us a tiny insight into what too many people have to experience night after night. The museum’s amazing Victorian Street certainly made for an atmospheric event.
“Between us we’ve raised £37,000 already with the money continuing to trickle in, so we’re confident we’ll top the £40,000 mark. I think it’s fantastic that Teesside has a business community that will band together to do achieve something extraordinary like that.”
Founder-chairman Andy Preston added: “Well done to all business leaders who gave up their comfortable beds for a night on a hard floor to do something amazing. We’re also grateful to Preston Park Museum and Stockton Council for hosting the event.
“We’ll be announcing more details about what promises to be a very special restaurant in the near future but this event has taken us another big step towards giving us the funding we need to achieve our aims.”
Andy is now busy organising further CEO Sleepout events, at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester and Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, while he is in discussions with many more locations across the country.
· To see the full list of all those who took part in CEO Sleepout, visit www.ceosleepoutuk.com