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Sam sleeps out in a tree for charity
10 May 2021
by Katy Rink

A Shrewsbury Explorer has raised over £2,000 for a children’s diabetes support group by sleeping out all night in a tree.

Sam Rodenhurst, 14, a pupil at Belvidere Secondary School, and a Type 1 diabetic himself, spent 24 hours camping high up in the canopy of an old oak tree at his grandparents’ farm Hollyberry Farm in Knolton in aid of Shrewsbury Kids with Diabetes. He had to do his own blood test whilst hanging in the tree!

Sam took his insulin with him in a cooler bag and also managed to cook burgers on a grill over a chiminea – hanging 60ft off the ground.

The tree is in the middle of a field, about half a mile from the farm. Sam started his adventure at 8.16am and was visited during the day by relatives, who booked slots during the day to go and chat to him from the ground, to keep him company. His younger brother Joe (12) came to watch and joined Sam for a swing in the tree.

Sam’s dad Gavin, a tree surgeon and owner of Gavin Tree Specialists Ltd, made sure Sam would be safe in his ‘bat hammock’ setup and even rigged up a huge tree swing, high up in the canopy.

Sam’s mum Kathy reports: “Sam had his burger and got into his hammock and went to sleep until 6am when the birds woke him up with the dawn chorus. He came down at 8.16am the next morning for a well-earned bacon sandwich. He’d taken magazines and books but didn’t have time to read them with the visits from elderly relatives and the swing."

Sam added: "We had one small shower but it got quite windy later on and was really cold further into the night, and very quiet, apart from the rustling of the trees. I put on every bit of clothing I had -  including a hat and snood - and curled up and just about managed to stay warm until the birds woke me up at 6.30am. We'd brought some snacks to have during the day and people were sending us food up using a pulley system. My grandma brought us soup of all things! We managed not to spill too much. 

"The swing was quite sketchy but was exciting nonetheless. We were pulling people up into the tree to visit camp - but stuck to the rule of six. I had a wee bottle for in the night and in the day we had a 'drop zone' an area between barbed wire we told no-one to go in!" 

Sam, who loves climbing and wildlife and would love to be a travelling vet one day, has raised £2,010 so far for Shrewsbury Kids with Diabetes. The adventure will also help him fulfil the volunteering part of his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh, which he is working towards with the Nameless Explorer Scout Unit in Shrewsbury.

He said: “I myself am a Type 1 Diabetic, so this charity is close to my heart. Shrewsbury Kids with Diabetes is an amazing parent-run support group which provides an essential opportunity for kids who have been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes to get together with other children, make friends, and talk about how they are feeling following their diagnosis, which can be very scary. It also provides a vital support network for parents to share their experiences at a time when their world is upside down. 

"Before Covid I was using the group quite a lot. It gives you the opportunity to meet other people so you feel less alone. I am delighted with how much we've raised so far. We reached nearly £1,000 in one day which was mind-blowing. I would like to thank all of the people who have donated and supported me." 

Kathy added: “Sam was diagnosed in Dec 2017 – He finds ways round everything he’s wanted to do. He doesn’t see it as a barrier, although everything does have to be planned.

“He has real fierce determination to not let it stop him doing anything. One of the reasons he wanted to do this was to show people you don’t have to stay at home, with your insulin in the fridge – Sam’s insulin was in a cooler bag with the burgers!”

Dad Gavin said: “I’m incredibly proud of Sam for doing this and showing us that anything is possible – still smiling as always. Thank you to everyone who has donated and it’s not too late for anyone who would like to contribute to this fabulous cause.”

To find out more about the Diabetes UK Shrewsbury Kids Group visit shrewsbury-kids.diabetesukgroup.org or contact Ann Griffiths, Secretary – secretarytype1diabetes.shrews@gmail.com or 07837626259

To donate visit Sam's fundraising page