(click to enlarge)
With all my possessions for the night, cardboard mattress and sleeping bags etc.
I got to the tilt yard a little before 9pm, people were already gathering for the event. I was welcomed by the volunteers marshalling the event and bought myself a Simon on the Streets beanie hat as I'd not found my own hat, put somewhere "safe" last spring.
Found myself a spot and set up camp! Already having doubts as it was very cold and the dew was starting to settle.
Once I was set up I chatted to my neighbours, people were starting to stream in now. Councillor David Nagle from Rothwell showed up, and set up camp right next to me. He'd done this before and gave me some solid
advice, took me under his wing so to speak.
After we'd settled in there was a presentation about Simon on the Streets, and a talk from one person who had turned her life around with the help of Simon.
This was followed by a group called the Commoners Choir who came to entertain us for a while, very entertaining and fun, if you get a chance to see them perform, take it!
I settled down to sleep around 11 after putting my sleeping bag into the bivvy bag I'd brought with me as it was getting damp from the evening dew. I thought once I was warmed up I'd drift off, but 10 minutes in my sleeping bag, nature decided it needed to call and I was out and off to the loo. I wandered around chatting to people and the night stretched on, there was a great and friendly atmosphere and I hope I made a few new friends, one person I was talking to had come all the way from Barnsley to take part.
The junk food project had laid on a buffet so I dropped some money in the tin and helped myself, and very nice it was too.
Around 2am I decided to try and settle down again, and soon found I was too warm, I had to take off a layer to be comfy. The cardboard I was sleeping on was uncomfortable and uneven, but with much wriggling and fussing about I got to a point where I wasn't so uncomfortable, and I
lay back and gazed at the stars, it had turned into a still, dry, clear and quite chilly night, but now the dew had all settled out of the air it actually felt a little warmer. You'll see from the pictures I had arranged a box to protect my head from the wind, but at this time, not feeling sleepy, I wasn't using it.
You'd be surprised just how much helicopter activity there is over Leeds this time of night, there were at least two buzzing about, and I half expected a searchlight to flood the tilt yard from above, wondering what was going on.
I finally gave in to sleep around 3am.
Councillor Nagle tried to wake me up about 5:30am as he'd offered me a lift home, but I was so warm and cosy, and sleepy, I declined his offer and went back to sleep almost immediately, waking properly about 7am to find pretty much everyone else had packed up and gone. I gathered my stuff together, dropped my cardboard bed off in the recycling bins provided, said my goodbyes to the volunteers and marshal's and wandered off to be picked up and taken home, exhausted, but happy I'd lasted the night.
I think I might have to do it all over again next year. I managed to raise £275 on line, and have at least another £100 due to come in in sponsorship from the parishioners of Newman Parish.
I'm just very grateful this is not how I sleep every night.
It's still not too late to donate