MUSSELBURGH was well represented at this year’s Sleep in the Park as school staff, pupils, a local councillor and sea cadets braved a chilly and damp night to support the event in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Youngsters from Musselburgh Grammar School were inspired to take part after a visit to the school earlier in the year by Alice Thompson, co-founder of Social Bite, a national social enterprise in Scotland.

Through a chain of cafes and restaurants, it employs more than 100 people, many of whom have struggled with homelessness, and organised Sleep in the Park, which took place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Councillor Andy Forrest, Depute Provost of East Lothian, was also repeating his efforts of last year by joining the nationwide sleepout with four colleagues from Capital Credit Union, a financial co-operative which offers a range of ethical financial services. By chance, he bumped into Musselburgh Sea Cadets, who were helping out at the Edinburgh event, which was hosted by Scottish comedian Fred MacAulay, during which they got the chance to hear singer Lulu.

The 30-strong group from Musselburgh Grammar School raised more than £4,200 to support the homeless.

Matthew Gray, history/modern studies teacher, said: “It was a special event to be part of in as much as it illustrated our role in a much wider movement around the issue of homelessness in Scotland.

“We were lucky enough to see and hear from a number of people who were in the process of receiving sustainable support to help them successfully address the challenges they each faced.

“Our pupils were engaged, enthusiastic and determined to help achieve this nationwide goal.

“Moreover, many pupils spoke with the individuals who were benefiting from our fundraising and with members of the Social Bite team. Discussions about future events and even possible work placements and internships were had.

“Irvine Welsh’s bedtime story was an interesting anecdote to end the night’s entertainment but did contain an important message about the role society plays in the hardship experienced by many. For some pupils that was the cue for bed; however, many stayed up long into the night enjoying chats and sing-songs by the fire.”

He added that temperatures dropped between 3am and 5am, making sleeping difficult for most.

Mr Gray said: “Our pupils were a credit to the school during the event. They were respectful of those they met, interested and enthusiastic about why we were there.

“They worked as a group throughout the event and pleasingly watched the entire stage show as a whole group rather than breaking off into smaller friendship groups.”

Mr Forrest and his colleagues raised just over £1,000.