James Hilling will be spreading Christmas cheer to the needy in Southampton

James Hilling

James Hilling

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

JUST four years ago he was homeless himself.

But today James Hilling will be bringing Christmas cheer to some of Southampton’s most needy people.

The gentle giant, who stands at just over 7ft tall, is aiming to feed dozens of homeless people across the city.

James, 34, will set up a stand in Hoglands Park on Christmas Day, where he will serve up refreshments, hot meals and snacks to those who need it most.

Bosses at Southampton newsagent PitStop News, in Belvedere Road, are supporting him by donating plastic cups, hot drinks, soup, mince pies and microwave meals to be given out on Christmas Day.

Another Hampshire firm, HSS Hire has also backed James, by pledging the use of its generators and tables on the day, while Golden Wonder distributor Symingtons has given more than 300 pot noodle and pot rice meals to the cause.

James lost his job as a professional tour manager for music stars like Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle and The Enemy in 2008.

He plunged into depression and began sleeping rough on the city’s streets. But he has turned his life around and is now working as an insurance broker at Miles Smith in Shamrock Quay.

James, of Bullar Road, Bitterne Park, said: “I know what it’s like to be homeless. I grew up in children’s homes across the region and when I lost my job I just got so badly depressed that I ended up on the streets with no one to turn to.

“Anyone who’s been through that will tell you it’s pretty tough.

“There is a stereotype that homeless people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, but a lot of these people are fantastic human beings. These are the kind of people we should be trying to reach out to.

“I just want to give these people something little to cheer about on Christmas Day, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, even if it’s just a chat over a cup of tea.

“So many people have rallied round to help. It’s gone from an idea of a little food giveaway to potentially being a party in the park.”

James plans to set up his stall from 10am this morning after the scheme was given approval by Southampton City Council.

Comments (9)

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9:17am Tue 25 Dec 12

southy says...

Good on you James, well done
Good on you James, well done southy
  • Score: 0

10:54am Tue 25 Dec 12

freefinker says...

southy wrote:
Good on you James, well done
.. well said southy.

I don't celebrate this so called 'religious holiday' but do recognise the end of each calendar year as a festive season and a time of good will.

James is showing great fortitude. To come back from the knocks live has dealt him to putting on this great event is very commendable. Thank you James.
[quote][p][bold]southy[/bold] wrote: Good on you James, well done[/p][/quote].. well said southy. I don't celebrate this so called 'religious holiday' but do recognise the end of each calendar year as a festive season and a time of good will. James is showing great fortitude. To come back from the knocks live has dealt him to putting on this great event is very commendable. Thank you James. freefinker
  • Score: 0

11:00am Tue 25 Dec 12

Lockssmart says...

Top man
Top man Lockssmart
  • Score: 0

11:03am Tue 25 Dec 12

Ted Rogers says...

Well done James - true human spirit.
The world would be a far better place with more following your fine example.
Well done James - true human spirit. The world would be a far better place with more following your fine example. Ted Rogers
  • Score: 0

12:55pm Tue 25 Dec 12

margie933 says...

What a wonderful thing to do.
Well done James . You can hold your head up high helping those in need. A pity there aren't more like you about.
Merry Christmas to you and All.
What a wonderful thing to do. Well done James . You can hold your head up high helping those in need. A pity there aren't more like you about. Merry Christmas to you and All. margie933
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Tue 25 Dec 12

Dresnez says...

James you truly have got the REAL meaning of Christmas.

I believe you are so right about the homeless. More decent human beings amongst those people than in the cut and thrust greedy world of respectable folk, the me, me attitude and the commercialism that has killed Christmas of much of its magic.

Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you James. xx
James you truly have got the REAL meaning of Christmas. I believe you are so right about the homeless. More decent human beings amongst those people than in the cut and thrust greedy world of respectable folk, the me, me attitude and the commercialism that has killed Christmas of much of its magic. Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you James. xx Dresnez
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Tue 25 Dec 12

IronLady2010 says...

What a wonderful gentleman!!!

Merry Christmas James!
What a wonderful gentleman!!! Merry Christmas James! IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

2:11am Wed 26 Dec 12

Inform Al says...

Impressed, if he ever needs help the Echo have my number.
Impressed, if he ever needs help the Echo have my number. Inform Al
  • Score: 0

8:12pm Wed 26 Dec 12

Fatty x Ford Worker says...

Best news story over Christmas well done Mate and keep it going!
Best news story over Christmas well done Mate and keep it going! Fatty x Ford Worker
  • Score: 0

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