MORE than 50 people headed up to Gwrych Castle in Abergele for the first Welsh “Big Sleep”, organised by the Alabaré charity events team, on Friday, April 22.

Participants bedded down on the cold, hard ground in front of the derelict castle, which is currently undertaking a huge restoration project.

The event was especially poignant as it aimed to raise awareness and funds for Alabaré’s Homes for Veterans.

They were joined by Field Kitchen, an Alabaré social enterprise who delighted with their woodfired pizzas.

Previously successful Big Sleep have included its annual event at Salisbury Cathedral, but Gwrych Castle, the host of ITV’s “I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!” for the last two years, was the first time it had been held in Wales.


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Bearing in mind the reputation for trials, participants were invited to take part in a series of team challenges which meant they could earn some notorious stars, rather like the celebrities did in the TV series.

There was great hilarity and a great deal of competitiveness among the participants, while they also got a behind-the-scenes look at the castle and saw some of the sets used in the series.

During the evening, participants also heard from Alabaré clients and learned more about the difficulties for homeless veterans.

Rhyl Journal: This was the first Big Sleep event to be held in Wales.This was the first Big Sleep event to be held in Wales.

Latest estimates indicate that between 100 and 400 veterans sleep rough every year and a further 3,000 to 4,000 face homelessness in cars, or derelict buildings.

The evening gave new supporters an opportunity to take part in the charity’s flagship event while raising funds to support veterans facing incredible difficulties following the pandemic and beyond.

The event aimed to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the charity and was generously sponsored by General Dynamics to ensure more of the money raised supports homeless and vulnerable veterans come off the street and move towards independence.

Rebecca Mullen, Alabaré’s fundraising and development manager, said: “This was the first time we have held the Big Sleep in Wales and it was a great opportunity to support our Welsh veterans and spread the word on all that we do further afield.

“The castle, under the brilliant stewardship of Dr Mark Baker, and with the backing of ITV, was incredibly supportive and accommodating and we thank them enormously for letting us borrow the castle for the evening.

“We were able to replicate some of the challenges on the show, but we know the biggest was to sleep rough.

“We finished the night off by crowning the fabulous Kelly Roberts as our Queen of the Castle, as our top fundraiser on the night!

“It was heart-warming to see so many new faces and to share such a great event at such an incredible venue and thankfully the weather was kind.

“Thank you to everyone who got involved as together we take a stand against homelessness.”