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Published 17th Sep 2018

Director Claire Preston holding an open laptop aloft with Rachel Whitehead, manager at The Fork in the Road, holding a plate with a large burger, fries and a salad.

You’ve heard of the CEO Sleepout – but now comes the CEO Eat Out!

Award-winning Teesside business Sound Training is set to take over a local restaurant as a charity fundraiser – and is throwing down the gauntlet to other local firms to try to raise more with similar events.

Members of the Middlesbrough-based company’s team will spend a night behind the bar, front of house and helping out in the kitchen at charity restaurant The Fork in the Road.

The Linthorpe Road restaurant exists to create training and employment opportunities for the long-time unemployed including current and former prison inmates and those affected by homelessness.

The popular eatery is run by Middlesbrough-based national charity CEO Sleepout, which has inspired hundreds of business leaders across the country to get sponsored to spend a night under the stars to raise funds to fight poverty and homelessness.

The CEO Eat Out is the brainchild of Sound Training’s CEO Claire Preston, as an alternative to the CEO Sleepout.

“The idea came to me when I was approached to take part in this year’s local CEO Sleepout at Preston Park Museum,” explained Claire, whose company deliver Lexonik, an innovative teaching programme across the UK as well as parts of the USA and the Middle East.

“While I’m happy to do it to raise awareness of such an important issue, having already taken part in three sleepout events, I’m conscious that I’m tapping into the same sources of sponsorship each time.

“This is an alternative fundraiser for the same worthy cause, but capitalising on my experience within the hospitality trade, my fellow director Katy Parkinson’s past career as a home economics teacher and passionate cook – and our general love of food!”

Claire and Katy will lead a small team of Sound Training staff who will work alongside Fork in the Road staff to serve food and drinks to invited guests including friends, family and business contacts.

Claire added: “We’re looking to create a staff team event with a difference – one that acts as a force for good, engages with the local community and creates a real sense of fun.

“We hope to create a template for other local businesses to follow in partnership with The Fork in the Road. Other local firms are already looking to follow suit, so we’re excited about the potential for CEO Eat Out.

“Some are talking about this as the perfect alterative Christmas party. I wonder how many managers would be willing to serve food and drink to staff for the night!

“Hopefully, there’ll be competition between businesses to see who can generate the most one-night income for The Fork in the Road, helping to create even more opportunities for those who most need a second career chance.

“Ultimately, the money will go into the same pot as it would with CEO Sleepout – except we’ll be sleeping in our own beds that night!”

In its first 12 months in operation, The Fork in the Road employed 15 local people, numerous prison inmates, provided works experience to 40 long-term unemployed and put 30 more through a catering industry training course.

Sound Training’s CEO Eat Out takes place on Friday September 28. Anyone who would like to attend can contact The Fork in the Road directly to book a table. Normal prices will be in place on the night, while there’ll be various fundraising activities.



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