BUSINESS leaders swapped their laptops for sleeping bags to sleep rough for the night to raise almost £40,000 for charity.

The Victorian Street at Preston Park Museum, in Eaglescliffe, Stockton, played host to 59 businessmen and women as part of CEO Sleepout, a national fundraising campaign that began on Teesside.

Organiser Dave Allan, owner of DNA PR & Publicity, said: “It’s nothing like what homeless people have to endure every night, but it was a cold, uncomfortable and sleepless night that gave us a tiny insight into what too many people have to experience night after night.”

Proceeds from the event will go towards funding the Fork in the Road, a new not-for-profit restaurant on Linthorpe Road, in Middlesbrough.

The eatery’s exact location remains a secret but it will provide catering jobs for recovering addicts and alcoholics, those who have suffered from homelessness and ex-offenders.

Led by Teesside businessman and charity leader Andy Preston, the CEO Sleepout charity has already raised around £800,000 to fight homelessness and poverty around the country.

Mr Preston added: “Well done to all business leaders who gave up their comfortable beds for a night on a hard floor to do something amazing."

Newton Aycliffe Councillor John Clare, who braved the sleepout, said: "“Most of homelessness is not to do with a lack of habitation, it’s to do with other issues which stop a person from being able to reintegrate into normal life.

“This will help those people work their way back into society with help and support."