Snow and storms can’t stop Freddie’s sleepout

MORE than £10,000 has been raised for a foodbank charity by a 10-year-old West End boy who has been sleeping in a tent in his garden every night for more than ten months.

Freddie Owen, who started the sleep-out on 27 March last year when he was nine, passed the target thanks to a donation from a local company.

Freddie with his tent covered by the recent snow

Redbrain, which describes itself as “a performance partner for eCommerce businesses”, added £800 to Freddie’s Justgiving page.

Andy Stevens, a Redbrain director, said: “I saw a Facebook post about Freddie and it just resonated with me as we like to help individuals or organisations that are trying to make a difference to the world. 

“Over the course of the last year we have donated over £100,000 to charities and try to look for passionate committed individuals, so Freddie fitted the bill.”

Freddie initially set himself a target of sleeping out for a year and raising £250 for the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks across Britain, including Woking.

As the money came pouring in, the determined young man continued raising his target. When the £10,000 milestone was reached before the end of the year-long sleepout, he decided to set a new goal of £15,000.

Freddie and his tent in more temperate weather

“I had been hoping to raise £10,000 for so long that I was over the moon when I did,” Freddie said. “I have high expectations.”

He didn’t find it easy at first, but he’s never given up.

“On my first night sleeping in my tent it was uncomfortable and it was hard to get to sleep.  It was not much better on night two but on night three I decided to stay in the tent for longer and longer and to try to reach a month,” he said. “By the time I reached a month I felt inspired to try to reach six months.  Now I want to aim for a year, and to use my challenge to raise money for this amazing charity.”

He was inspired by the plight for people not having enough money to feed themselves and their families and has never wavered in his commitment to his challenge.

This included the heavy snowfalls in Surrey last month, which Freddie said he enjoyed, and the even more testing storms, one of which destroyed his first tent seven months into his sleepout.

He slept in the garden shed to keep the challenge going while waiting for a replacement tent.

Freddie, who attends Bishopsgate School in Englefield Green, goes indoors in the mornings and sets off outside every evening, with layers of warm clothes, blankets and audio books.

“It really is very cold, but people are hungry – I have to do this,” he said, pointing out that while he could enjoy a hot breakfast in the morning, that wasn’t the same for all children.

Alison Buckland, the Woking Foodbank administrator, said: “We are hugely grateful to Freddie for his support for the national foodbank network.

Freddie has been sleeping outside since 27 March last year and has so far raised over £10,000 for the Trussel Trust foodbank charity

“We receive invaluable guidance and support from the Trussell Trust, so Freddie is helping local people, who are struggling to put food on the table for their families.”

The intrepid fundraiser received national recognition in November, when he was awarded a S.A.R.A – Special Award Recognising Awesomeness – on Sara Cox’s Radio 2 show, where those nominated have said to have gone “above and beyond”.

Last summer the family were able to enjoy a short holiday in their campervan when coronavirus restrictions were eased and Freddie took his tent with him so he could continue his challenge.

Freddie said he loves sleeping out in a tent.

“I would love to go camping in tropical places when I’m older,” he said.

His mum Nicola has been impressed by Freddie’s determination.

“He has never once said he wants to sleep indoors. He will carry on as long as he sees there is a benefit to it,” Nicola said.

* TO donate to Freddie’s fundraising, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/freddie-owen123

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