Shepton Mallet Journal - 29 July 2015
Shepton-based charity SOS Africa will be filling the cells for two weekends in October after offering 200 people the chance to “nominate an inmate.”
Those chosen will spend 24 hours imprisoned in HMP Shepton Mallet this autumn. Each nominee will be tasked with raising £240 for the charity- enough for a year’s tuition for an SOS Africa child. The innovative fundraiser has the full backing of City and Country, who bought the prison for an undisclosed fee in December last year.
The developers have twice opened the doors to the prison to members of the public as part of consultations over the future of the historic building. This will be the only event of its kind to be held at the prison. Director of SOS Africa, Matt Crowcombe, said: “I contacted them with the idea, not thinking that they’d say yes.” But head of planning at City and Country, Richard Winsborough, said: “When SOS Africa approached us we were hugely impressed by the wonderful work they do. The ‘Lock-In’ will help raise valuable funds for the charity and we are delighted to open the prison for this excellent initiative.”
SOS Africa raised £40,000 last year with an abseil down the Pyramid Stage at Worthy Farm, and Mr Crowcombe said he was looking for something on that scale for this year.
“We wanted to do something that would really interest people, something completely unique,” he said. There’s so much history there, and I think we’re all a bit curious about it, what it would be like to spend a night there.”
Former Shepton Mallet Prison officer Laura Miller- who worked there for 15 years- will be working with SOS Africa volunteers to create an authentic prison experience. For more information, visit www.sosafrica.com
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