A schoolboy is celebrating a year camping out in his garden by urging children from across the world to join him to mark the occasion.
Max Woosey started his adventure on March 28 last year to raise money for a hospice which looked after a family friend, Rick Abbott.
Mr Abbott was a keen adventurer, camper and outdoor sports enthusiast and shortly before dying he gave his tent over to Max and told him: “Promise me you’ll have your own adventures in it.”
The 11-year-old, from Braunton, has since raised over £280,000 for the North Devon Hospice and his story has travelled around the world.
He has braved all sorts of foul weather, including a cold snap which saw the lowest temperatures in the UK for a decade.
Max spent his birthday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve sleeping in his tent.
“I’m determined now. It doesn’t matter what day it is, or what the weather is. I’m doing every night for a year,” Max said.
“If I don’t do it now, I know I’ll look back when I’m older and think: ‘Oh no, you blew it.'”
Max is now encouraging children from across the world to camp out in their garden on Saturday night for “Max’s Big Camp Out”.
If they are unable to camp out, Max is encouraging them to build and den from pillows and blankets in their home and sleep in that.
“It’s amazing. Children in America, across Europe, in Asia and Australia, will get the chance to join in,” Max said.
“It will be great fun and they can choose to raise funds for their own chosen charity as well.”
Max has recently received support from his own two inspirational heroes, Bear Grylls and Jonny Wilkinson, who have sent him video messages of encouragement.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Max said.
“I watch all Bear Grylls’ stuff on TV and I love rugby.
“I‘ve got a few books about Jonny Wilkinson and his autobiography in my tent, which I read when I’m not reading the Beano.
“It was epic that they both supported me, saying: ‘Carry on kid, you can do it.'”
Max’s mother Rachael Woosey said: “I have to stop and pinch myself to take in just how big this has become.
“Max started out with the intention of raising a few pounds for our local hospice – in fact he’s raised £175,000 and counting, which is incredible in itself.
“But to mark a year in his tent he decided he’d like to raise awareness of children’s mental health during lockdown.
“He knows what it’s like to be isolated from friends, not to be able to play team sports and that sort of thing, so he’s doing this for all those children who have found lockdown – indeed the whole Covid crisis, so tough.
“Children all over the world can join in.”
Max’s father Mark Woosey, a Royal Marine, never thought what started out as a few nights sleeping in a tent would last a whole year.
“I thought he meant just for a few days. I couldn’t believe it when he started camping out every night, for weeks on end,” Mr Woosey said.
“Max has been on an amazing journey. It has brought out both his empathy for others and his steely determination.
“What’s really great about Max’s Big Camp Out is that it gives children a chance to do something really positive, when all they have heard for months on end is you can’t do this, and you can’t do that.”
Mrs Woosey added: “It’s totally up to them who they raise funds for and it should be every child’s choice.
“If they want to join Max’s fundraising for our local hospice, they can.
“If they want to choose a children’s mental health charity to go with the theme of night they can do that, or if they’d rather support a charity close to their own hearts, that’s equally as fine.
“By camping with Max on his one-year anniversary night, they can all make a difference.”
– Donations can be made at https://maxsbigcampout.justgiving.com/