More than 240 IT professionals braved a bitter cold snap to sleep out overnight near London's Tower Bridge in Byte Night's bid to raise over £200,000 to help disadvantaged children.
The cold served to boost the spirit of camaraderie among the many competing sectors of the IT industry taking part in the eighth Byte Night event which has raised well over £1m towards children's charity NCH's work with young people facing leaving care or homelessness.
Sleepers heard harrowing, poignant and disturbing accounts outlining some of the reasons that drive children onto the streets, and also from teenagers to say how they were helped by NCH.
"This was the best Byte Night ever," said Ken Deeks, founder of Byte Night and non-executive director of PR company Kaizo. "We had more people than ever before. Also, there was a bigger buzz, with a nice mix of people who have done it a few times and people doing it for the first time.
Also, it was cold, the coldest it has ever been - but that is the point, isn't it?"
Sleepers included senior members of many leading IT companies, including Cisco, Cognos, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, SAP, Sun Microsystems, SThree, as well as service companies including Banner Corporation, Ernst & Young, Harvey Nash, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. User organisations were represented by Barclaycard, and the Impact Programme. The event was, as every year, supported by Computer Weekly, whose managing editor, John Riley, also slept out.
"People commented on how this is the one thing that brings the industry together, with competition forgotten about, all in a good cause," said Deeks. "The teenagers who spoke at the reception were brilliant and reminded us of why we were doing it. Six month's ago one guy who spoke about what NCH has done for him would have had an anxiety attack getting on a bus. Now he is talking to 240 senior people from the IT industry about his life, and what help he has had from NCH - all without notes."
A charity auction held before participants bedded down raised more than £13,000. NCH said the event was highly effective as about 92p of every £1 raised went directly to helping the needy.
Next year's Byte Night is on 29 September 2006.