Couple who met while sleeping rough for homelessness charity return as husband and wife

Couple who met while sleeping rough for homelessness charity return as husband and wife

Catherine and Neil on their wedding day. The pair met at the 2012 Sleep Easy in Kingston

The YMCA Sleepeasy encourages people to sleep rough and have fun at the same time to raise money for homeless causes

First published in News
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Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

Kingston’s Memorial Gardens holds some very special memories for Neil Bond and Catherine Freeman.

Not only was it the place they first met, but it was the site where last year Neil, 41, knelt down amongst the mud, cardboard boxes and rough sleepers and proposed.

It may not sound like the ideal romantic nightstop to get engaged, but there is a good reason for it.

The couple were taking part in the YMCA’s annual Sleep Easy event, where they had met the previous year.
 

Remembering the romantic gesture, Catherine, 33, who got involved after hearing a talk at St Paul's Church Hook where she is a PCC member, said: "It was 4am, and we had decided to give up the cold and dark and go home.

“Then all of a sudden, Neil knelt down and produced a ring box from inside his anorak and asked me to marry him.

“I said: ‘Yes, but please get up out of the mud!’

“I took the  box but was terrified to take the ring out, thinking I’d drop it since my hands were so muddy and swollen with the cold, so I put it in my inside pocket for safety.

“We returned home feeling very merry, although freezing and soaked.”

This weekend, Neil, the manager of Oxfam Teddington, and Catherine, who works in the front of house at the V&A Museum of Childhood, will again brave the cold and wet to raise money for those who really are homeless.

It will be their first Sleep Easy as a married couple, having tied the knot in October last year, living together in Teddington.

Neil said: “We will take part at Sleep Easy again this year because we want to do what we can to help.

“Also, we want to invite our friends to join us on this night that has come to mean so much for us."

Homeless charity Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness estimates there are between 20 to 30 people sleeping rough in Kingston on any given night.

YMCA’s fifth annual London Sleep easy event will take place on Saturday, January 25.

To sponsor Catherine and Neil click here.

Sign up here if you would like to take part.

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