Embrace drummer Mike Heaton making some noise for the Leeds Big Sleep

A member of local band Embrace will be helping to raise money for three Leeds charities by spending a night sleeping on one of his drum-kits as part of the 2021 Leeds Big Sleep In on Friday 5th February.

Mike Heaton, drummer for indie icons Embrace, will be bedding down on top of his instruments for the sponsored ‘sleep in’ together with his partner Sarah Smith, a Trust Fundraiser for homeless charity St George’s Crypt who organise the annual fundraising event with Leeds Rhinos Foundation and St Gemma’s Hospice.

With participants this year tasked to find somewhere unusual and uncomfortable around the home to sleep in for this year’s virtual Leeds Big Sleep, the couple came up with the novel idea of incorporating Mike’s drums into their sleeping arrangements to help make some noise with their own fundraising and spark some interest amongst the Embrace fanbase.

Explaining their plans for the evening, Sarah said: “We were trying to think of ideas of how to get involved with the Big Sleep in a fun and novel way which still fit the brief and so I suggested we tried to sleep on Mike’s drum kits.

“At first it seemed a bit daft, but if you think about some of the places that people out on the street have to sleep, it’ll be no more comfortable than that.

“We’re still trying to work out the logistics of it and whether we’ll be just leaning over them whilst sat on a stool or taking them apart to try make some kind of mattress out of them. It’s a challenge, but it’s one that’s definitely going to be done and we’re both looking forward to doing our bit for the Leeds Big Sleep.

“Mike’s always been up for getting involved with fundraising events and anything that supports local charities. We met through a charity music event that I worked on some years ago which he agreed to get involved with and endorse, so it’s something we’re both passionate about and have enjoyed doing for a long time.”

Now into its fourth year, the Leeds Big Sleep has established itself as one of the city’s premier fundraising events, with more than 250 volunteers taking part in the previous edition in 2019. Their efforts helped to raise over £55,000 for the three organising charities, all of which work with vulnerable people throughout the city.

Others taking on the sleepout this year include Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Director of Bill Dyson Skip Hire & Waste Management, Lisa Dyson, who will be sleeping out in one of her businesses’ maxi skips.

Having spent many years working in the charitable sector, Sarah knows just how crucial fundraising events such as the Leeds Big Sleep In are in helping to raise money for all three charities to continue delivering their community-based programmes.

“Obviously people think we’re a bit bonkers sleeping on a drum kit, but it’s definitely helped to build more awareness about the event and encouraged people to go donate,” said Sarah.

“Because it’s so quirky, it’s really pricked people’s ears up and the musical aspect has resonated with the Embrace fans which is great. When they read into the story of why you’re doing it, people are keen to help in whatever way they can, especially at such an uncertain time for vulnerable people in our city.

“It’s quite bleak out there for charities in terms of funding opportunities and one of the best things we can do is work together effectively. It’s so inspiring how well our three charities collaborate on the Leeds Big Sleep and I think it gives a good message to other charities out that there are ways to be creative and adapt your plans without having to lose out.

“By encouraging people to take part virtually in fun, unique ways like sleeping on a drum kit, it not only makes the event stand out, but also gives the public a great opportunity to engage in something positive during lockdown and give back to their local community.”

You can support Sarah and Mike with their fundraising efforts by making a donation to their JustGiving page here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=sarahsmith407&pageUrl=1


The 2021 Leeds Big Sleep In takes place on Friday 5th February. Supporters of all ages are being invited to take part in the virtual sleepout, which will feature a whole host of virtual activities and entertainment for them to enjoy.

To register your place for the Leeds Big Sleep In, please visit http://bit.ly/LeedsBigSleepIn. Please note that a £5 registration fee applies.

For more information about the Leeds Big Sleep In, email tracey.mearns@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.