NURSERY staff went above and beyond to help the homeless as they spent a night in a cardboard shelter for charity.

Shannon Gilsenan and Tayla Downes, from Little Stars Nursery Bright Horizons on Harwell Campus, slept outside on Thursday to raise money for homelessness charity Shelter.

The senior nursery nurses were given food and survival packs to help them through the night, before completing a full day's work yesterday.

Their efforts have helped raise almost £600 for the charity, through an online justgiving page and sponsorship forms.

The sleepout came alongside a Children in Need fundraising day at the nursery and deputy manager Mary Parlett reflected on a team effort.

She said: "We always fundraise for Children in Need and Shannon really wanted to do something for the homeless, so we thought we'd link it together.

"A couple of the girls thought we could have a homeless night and it evolved from there.

"The parents have been fantastic - one even made the huge cardboard box they slept in."

Parents at the nursery were asked to fill a sock of essential items for the homeless, including toothbrush, toothpaste and roll-on deodorant.

Meanwhile, several children helped decorate the shelter by adding their hand prints to the outside of the cardboard box.

Deliveries through the night helped Ms Gilsenan and Ms Downes last until the morning, while resident teddy bear Candyfloss was on guard to ensure their safety.

After freshening up before their shift yesterday, the pair took part in fundraising activities including a cake stall, a pamper raffle and fancy dress.

Artwork by children at the nursery was also on sale all day and proved popular.

By early afternoon yesterday, Little Stars had already raised £400 for Children in Need, putting it on track to raise well over £1,000 for the two charities.

Mrs Parlett, from Harwell, paid tribute to the nursery nurses, but admitted the long night took its toll the next day.

She said: "The adrenaline helped them through the night, but they were on a late shift on Friday so they really felt it.

"They've done a brilliant job and are an inspiration to everybody."

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness.