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Residents organise a sleepout at The White Hart pub, at the White Hart Yard, Newark as part of The Great Tommy Sleep Out

A woman with personal connections to the military is braving the cold and wet on a sleepout to raise awareness for homeless veterans.

Gemma Meakin, of Newark, will be taking part in the national challenge — called The Great Tommy Sleep Out — in aid of the Royal British Legion and the estimated 6,000 veterans currently experiencing homelessness in the country.

The sleepout will take place today (March 23) at The White Hart beer garden in Newark and will end on Sunday, March 24 at 10am.

White Hart Pub, off Newark Market Place, Newark.
White Hart Pub, off Newark Market Place, Newark.

The group has raised £600 out of a £1,000 target and hopes to raise more funds throughout the day and evening of Saturday.

“I am a big supporter of the Royal British Legion due to my family’s military background. My grandad, who passed away two years ago, was in the army and also did a lot of charity work for various different charities around the town as well.

“My uncle was in the army, my grandad’s brother was in the army and now my younger brother has just started in the army, I am from a mass military background.”

“The community has come together for it. It is fantastic to see how the community is donating and supporting this cause.”

Initially, Gemma was going to take part in the challenge by herself, however, managers and staff at the pub – in Market Place – showed their interest to take part and volunteered the facilities.

Gemma said she was thinking of finding a spot in the middle of Newark but was nervous about doing it by herself because of the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour.

The manager at the pub, Kelly Kehoe, expressed her interest in joining the fundraising after Gemma asked her if she could do the sleepout at the pub’s beer garden.

“The staff at the White Hart have been amazing, running around like headless chickens, getting donations from people who have been drinking in there, families and friends,” added Gemma.

On Saturday, a biker’s club from the area will be supporting the cause and helping raise funds throughout the afternoon and evening.

People who wish to donate can go to the White Hart and donate directly or go to the British Legion website and donate on Gemma’s fundraising page .

“I think it is important that people support these causes for the homeless veterans who have fought for our country and did a lot. It is nice to give them some recognition for that and also to try and help them out and house them.”

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