Many of the UK’s campers were suffering disappointment as camping season came to a grinding halt thanks to coronavirus and lockdown – but thanks to a bathroom fitter and dad of two, they are out camping again, having fun in their gardens and raising funds for the NHS.

Ian Alcorn had no idea his plan to raise £100 by camping in the garden and getting friends and family to do the same would raise £156k for the NHS and get the backing of one of the UK’s leading tent retailers Go Outdoors, inspiring over 11,000 people worldwide to get out in their gardens – or even in makeshift indoor tents with a sheet draped over chairs in the lounge!

Ian explains:

“I came up with the idea while watching Antiques Roadshow with my wife, Lucy”, said 46-year-old Ian. “Since we couldn’t go out camping, I thought why not do it in the garden for a good cause and I invited a few mates to do the same with their families. Within a few hours we’d raised £2,000 and the donations just kept coming in. I’m absolutely blown away.”

The drive to help the NHS saw Ian earn the backing of one of the UK’s biggest outdoor retailers, Go Outdoors. The brand has been helping Ian spread the word and get more people involved and donating by sharing the news with its millions of email subscribers and social media followers. Colleagues have also been joining the campout, including CEO, Lee Bagnall.

The retailer has temporarily rebranded as Go Indoors and launched a video urging people to stay at home and protect the NHS.

Ian continues,

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get so much interest and raise so much money – it’s been overwhelming and emotional – I keep having to pinch myself.

“My kids are really proud of the difference this is making and my wife is helping me respond to the thousands of messages of encouragement we’re getting on social media.

“To the NHS workers, I say, we appreciate all you’re doing. It’s a shame we can’t all thank them personally. Keep up the good work.”

However, it isn’t only the NHS who are benefiting from the simple idea. Camper Mark Baker joined from the second weekend. He said:

“Normally by April, we’d have already been camping a few times, but the weather was just too bad in February and March – then lockdown came and we were feeling a bit low and jaded.

“My wife’s cousin alerted me to Ian’s campaign, we gladly donated our pitch fees and we were so uplifted, we had a fantastic weekend sharing a new experience with others online. In fact, we loved it so much we’ve bought a new smaller tent and we’ll be out there again next weekend. It’s definitely cheered up the camping community and knowing it’s for such a good cause is amazing.”

In a summer marked by lockdown, sad news and inspiring stories, the #GreatBritishCampout has brought hope, fun and unity – even for those who don’t have a tent. The fun will continue throughout the summer, with more campouts planned for May bank holiday, although many are ‘camping’ every weekend. Ian says:

“If you don’t have a tent or camper van, you can still join in by making a den in your living room. Stay safe, have fun, and make memories.”

To donate, visit Ian’s JustGiving page here and visit the Facebook page here.

For more inspiring activities to do at home, visit https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/go-explore

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