How Doctors actor Chris Walker and pals slept rough in a car park to raise thousands for Doncaster's homeless

This was soap star Chris Walker in a car park with friends – where they spent a night on the asphalt sleeping under the December sky to help Doncaster’s homeless.

By David Kessen
Thursday, 24th December 2020, 10:00 am

Chris along with his singing star daughter Anastasia, her band’s drummer Richard Gartland, Paul Smith from Doncaster firm Touchstone Education, and property investor, Bhavin Thacker, slept in the car park to raise awareness of charities which help rough sleepers in the borough.

The actor, who plays policeman Rob Hollins in the daytime soap opera Doctors, roughed it the day after his show started its Christmas filming break. The others went into work the next day.

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Anastasia Walker, of Bang, Bang Romeo, pictured with her Dad, Actor Chris Walker and Paul Smith, Owner and Co-founder of Touchstone Education. Picture: NDFP-15-12-20-SleepOut 2-NMSY

He and the team have so far raised £2,420 for for Real Help Doncaster, the charity which works with the homeless in the borough. They are still collecting money and anyone who wants to donate can click on https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/touchstoneeducation.

It will fund projects like helping homeless people access training, furnishings, travel costs or setting up a home.

Anastasia, currently working for the sleep-out’s organisers, Touchstone Education, said they spent the first few hours of their 8am to 8pm session in the town centre speaking to charity workers, later returning to the car park outside Touchstone’s offices on Heavens Walk, just outside Doncaster town centre, for a night sleeping rough.

Anastasia, singer with the group Bang Bang Romeo, said: “The ground was wet, but we were lucky in that it didn’t rain – it was just very cold. We got back to the car park at about 1am. We couldn’t share body heat because of social distancing for the coronavirus.

"I had a problem early on, when I broke my sleeping bag by pulling the zip too hard. But it wasn’t below zero and it didn’t rain.

“I think I slept for maybe an hour and a half.

"It was quite emotional in the morning – it felt like, wow, that was one night. There are people who do that every night. I went home to a warm house and it felt unjust."

Touchstone will post video about the night, which they called Sleep Out 2 Help Out, on December 30.

Anastasia and Richard are currently unable to perform due to Covid restrictions. Their touring calendar this year was to include Glastonbury and the South by South West festival in Texas.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.