Leeds man steps in to help rough sleeper who lost everything in tent fire

It is not clear how the tent on Woodhouse Moor caught fire.
It is not clear how the tent on Woodhouse Moor caught fire.
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A homeless man who lost all his belongings after his tent caught fire now has some shelter again - thanks to the kind actions of a former RAF airman.

Charlie Hammerton made an online appeal to help the man get back on his feet after the incident on Woodhouse Moor.

James' new tent.

James' new tent.

Charlie, who lives in the area, noticed a group of people standing around the tent Saturday afternoon.

“I noticed smoke and a group of people stood around it,” said Charlie. “By the time it was out there was one sleeping bag left, everything else was gone. Even his money had been kept in something combustible and there was just a few coins left.”

The man, named James, was not in the tent at the time. It is not clear how the fire started but West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service were called.

Charlie, who is originally from Essex, tried to rally others who were there into doing something to help James, without much success.

So he went home and appealed to friends online.

“By 8.30pm we had a full bag of shopping, a new tent, clothing, a sleeping bag, a duvet and a ground mat,” said the 25-year-old.

There were offers of support from all over the country, and even as far away as the Outer Hebrides.

Charlie, who served in the RAF and runs bushcraft classes, has an extensive online following due to his many adventures.

Aged 23, he decided to sell all his belongings and travel the world in a camper van with his pet ferret, Bandit, after a number of tragic losses in his life.

Charlie has also experienced homelessness himself and works with the charity Save Our Soldier, which supports veterans returning to civilian life.

Charlie said he hoped he had helped to make James’ life ‘a bit more manageable’ and is now trying to support him to get his life back on track longer term.

A fire service spokeswoman said: “We were called at 5.13pm on Saturday 9th of March to reports of a fire in the open on Clarendon Road in Leeds.

“One appliance from Leeds attended and the crew left the scene at 5.39pm.”