At the same time as the Cornerstone Big Sleep Out, but in a primary school some 19 miles to the West, 25 pupils from Year 4 were having their own adventure.
Pupils from Christ the King RC Primary in Walkden, led by Headteacher Mrs Nicola Potts, Deputy Headteacher Joanne McAllister and Mr Shane Nolan (Yr 5 teacher), along with other teaching staff and helpers, reached out in solidarity by doing their own ‘Big Sleep Out’ on the school grounds. Instead of staying in the warmth and comfort of their own homes after they had finished school on Friday, at teatime pupils started filing back to school with their sleeping bags, onesies and teddies under their arms. Firstly they filed to the parish church for a short reflection led by Mgr John Dale. Here they considered the plight of the homeless people who had to ‘sleep out’ every night, and those they had gathered to help. The children said that they had seen, and were quite saddened by, the many people sleeping rough on the streets of Manchester. They were clearly moved by the situation, and pleased to be able to help and that they could do this in a fun way with their friends.
On returning to school, they had great fun lighting the firepits, under the expert guidance of Mr Nolan (who is a Scout leader in his spare time), so that they could heat up a delicious stew mix that they had pre-prepared in tin foil wraps, followed by scrumptious bananas with chocolate.
Whilst they were tucking in to their feast they were delighted to receive a special visitor. Bishop John Arnold popped in to say hello and to appreciate the children’s act of charity, on the way to his own sleep out at the Cornerstone event. Bishop John praised the children for their compassion and generosity, in support of such a great cause. After food, the children were sent off on a treasure hunt around the school grounds, finding treats and glow sticks in the shrubbery, which they then used in a game of hide and seek by torchlight and other activities. Finally, when pupils (and staff) were well and truly worn out, they returned to the school hall, which had been transformed into a tent city and they settled down to their, somewhat restless, nights ‘sleep’. For some pupils it was the first opportunity to sleep away from home, so it was a really big deal. Headteacher Mrs Potts, said, ‘We are so proud of what Year 4 children have achieved. They have raised so much money tonight to help those in need, we are also really appreciative to the Bishop for his visit, and to Mgr John Dale and the Parish of Christ the King as they have agreed to match fund whatever we have raised.’