HUNDREDS of Borderers braved the freeze over the weekend to help raise almost £4 million towards homeless charities.

Around 8,000 hardy souls slept out in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens as temperatures plummeted.

The Sleep in the Park was organised by homeless support organisation Social Bite.

And it attracted the likes of Liam Gallagher, Deacon Blue, Amy Macdonald and Frightened Rabbit to support the event and entertain the fundraisers.

John Cleese wrote and performed a bedtime story, while Sir Bob Geldof delivered a rousing speech.

Josh Littlejohn, co-founder of Social Bite, said: "I'm blown away by the amount of people who have turned out.

"It looks like we're going to have about 8,000 people come and sleep out which is mind-blowing really for a country like Scotland, a small country, to get behind a cause like that.

"That's going to translate to somewhere in the region of between £3 million and £4 million that's going to be raised.

"It's an absolutely incredible result and I'm really humbled by it."

Among the many who travelled to the capital on Saturday to take part were BGH doctors Cliff and Anne-Marie Sharp.

Anne-Marie, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, told us: "We are both so very much aware of the link between sleeping rough and poor health, particularly mental health.

"Our night was very, very hard with below freezing temperature, but the hardship was nothing in comparison with folk who have to live in these conditions and worse every night.

"The take home message from the event is that the numbers are not huge and eradicating homelessness in Scotland is achievable within the next three to five years."

Anne Wright and Verity Much from Kelso Rotary Club both braved the big chill.

Anne said: "It certainly puts your own life of warmth and family in perspective."

Peeblesshire minister Jim Benton-Evans, who is Rector of St Peter’s Peebles and St Andrew’s Innerleithen, was also among the sleep-out fundraiser.

And Cardrona-based Church of Scotland minister Barry Hughes also bedded down for the night in Princes Street Gardens along with his 16-year-old son, Paddy.

Jackie Smith and her colleagues, Andy Smith, Lana Spence, Jill Hamilton, Jason Forsyth and Darren Archibald, from Agenor Technology at Tweed Horizons raised close to £1700 for the Social Bite cause by sleeping out.

And both Val Black from Selkirk and Laura McCulloch from Tweedbank also braved the freeze.

Sara Ward and Alison Harold from Selkirk were also among the 8,000 fundraisers.

Sara told us: "The entertainment, volunteers and organisers all did themselves proud.

"Even though we woke up with icicles on our sleeping bags and had minimum sleep, I feel like we have made a small difference to a much bigger picture. Thanks to everyone who donated . It is very much appreciated."

Clare Swann, who is the founder of Schools Out in Peebles, helped raise more than £1,000 along with her aunt and her niece.

Clare told us: "The support from family and friends and in particular parents and children from Schools Out was outstanding.

"Josh and his team at Social Bite have created an enormous shift in tackling homelessness and while shivering under the stars along with 8000 others you realise that by working together anything is possible."

Five friends from Peebles - the Shire Squad - also did their bit to help eradicate homelessness.

Kirsty Thomson, Suzy Welsh, Annie Patterson, Elizabeth Connor and Sarah Connor work together at Holland and Sherry.

And they raised more than £1500 through sponsors and a bake sale.

Kirsty said: "The night itself was a great insight into what it's like to be homeless, but hopefully with all the money raised we should be able to eradicate homelessness in five years."

Tony Hackney and his workmates from BSW Timber also took part.

Paul and Louise Spence from Peebles raised close to a £1,000 by bedding down in the freezing park.

Paul said: "The homeless don't have homes to go back to. This is one of the reasons for the sleep out - to build homes for those who need them most so they can get their lives back on track.

"Whilst you can’t help everyone, you can do a little bit that will make that person realise that tomorrow is one more positive day in the climb to get their life back."

Gill Donnan from Jedburgh, Eman Abdullah from Clovenfords and Lauder's Megan McFarlane raised over £1200 between them by taking part.

Gill told us: "It was a fantastic experience but one we're glad we'll never have to repeat.

"In sub-zero conditions, no sleep to be had, we all reflected deeply on the luxuries we could return home to.

"We were totally overwhelmed by the coverage it got, and the extraordinary amount of money raised."

Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney, Communities Secretary Angela Constance and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart also supported the event.

Social Bite hope the event would lead to a structural change in homelessness in Scotland to the Housing First model, following pledges that around 475 homes for homeless people will be provided across the central belt by the EdIndex Partnership and Wheatley Group.

Organiser Josh added: "That's almost 500 homes in the central belt alone that have been offered and that's going to get people out of sleeping rough, out of hostels and out of the homeless system and give something that we all take for granted, which is a stable place to call home.

"From that safe and secure base we're going to fund a comprehensive support resource to go round those people and make sure they are supported in those homes and help get them out of that dire situation.

"That's something that we hope will be a more broad structural response in Scotland, so our default position as a society and as local government and national government, the way we respond to homelessness is to try and get people into a mainstream stable home and provide some support around it."