Daring Portsmouth veterans put their lives in YOUR hands to survive freezing fundraiser for homeless heroes

FEARLESS veterans battling to save homeless British military heroes will put their lives on the line during a daring fundraising stunt.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 6:05 am
Left to right: Gary Sprakes, Kevin Allum and Chris Nicholls. Picture: Vernon Nash (301119-005)

Five members of Eastney-based military charity, Forgotten Veterans UK will spend four nights sleeping rough in the city centre.

But the intrepid team will begin their effort with ‘nothing but the shirts on their backs’, relying wholly on the kindness of strangers to keep them alive.

Everything from food and water, clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries, coats and shelter will need to be donated if the squad are to survive the freezing winter evenings.

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Forgotten Veterans UK founder and CEO Gary Weaving. Picture: Vernon Nash (301119-001)

Retired soldier Gary Weaving, founder of Forgotten Veterans UK, set up the event and hopes it will shine a light on veteran homelessness and mental health.

The former Royal Engineer said: ‘Veterans are being kicked out with nothing and put onto the streets. The country needs to do more to stop this.

‘I’ve seen what Portsmouth can do to help veterans. I know how good the city can be. So now I’m launching an appeal to the country to show other cities what can be done.’

The challenge will begin on Friday and finish next Tuesday.

Members of the sleep out and support team. Left to right: Chris Nicholls, Dan Gardyne, Gary Weaving, Kevin Allum and Gary Sprakes. Picture: Vernon Nash (301119-003)

The team will be setting up camp in Commercial Road and will remain in the city centre for the duration.

Gary, whose charity helps military veterans in crisis, added: ‘We will only survive on public donations. We’ve got no coats, we’ve got no sleeping bags, we’ve got no food. We’ll have no phones.

‘We will literally have nothing but the shirts on our backs. Unless your readers come down and donate a bit of tarpaulin or a sleeping bag or some sausages rolls, it’s going to be a very long, cold four days.’

The team hope to encourage local politicians and members of the public to join them throughout the effort.

Roughin' it: Gary Sprakes, left, Kevin Allum and Chris Nicholls, right. Picture: Vernon Nash (301119-004)

Among those backing the effort is Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council leader and the island’s armed forces champion.

He said: ‘I hope they will all be okay. December is cold, wet and horrible.

‘I’m confident the people of Portsmouth will help. People in this city have a real feeling for the military. Our city would not exist if it wasn’t for the military.’

To support the appeal, visit the team in Commercial Road between December 13 and 17.

The group will also be collecting money for Forgotten Veterans UK. To donate £1 text ‘VETERANSUPPORT’ to 799985.

For more details, see forgottenveteransuk.com