A HOMELESS man who died alone and estranged from his remaining family is set to be given a loving and respectful funeral thanks to a local charity.
And organisers from Stafford's House of Bread are appealing to local people to rally round and donate towards the cost of the funeral.
Dale James died in a Cannock nursing home last week aged 55 after suffering years of ill-health following a brain tumour.
He had a troubled background and had been living rough for some time because the after-effects of the operation to remove his tumour made it difficult for him to control his moods, said House of Bread director Will Morris.
But he paid tribute to Mr James as a true friend of House of Bread.
"As Dale has no family that we can find, House of Bread have taken on the funeral arrangements," Mr Morris said.
"We want Dale's funeral to have as much dignity as we can. We will conduct the service and seek to cover the costs as best as we can."
But the costs amount to around £2,500 and the charity is appealing for help in cash or in kind.
Mr Morris said they had already had a donation of a coffin, and wanted to hear from anyone who could contribute flowers and transport, as well as donating cash.
"This is going to be a real challenge for us," he said.
"We would really like to ask the people of Stafford to help support Dale's funeral.
"We want to provide a dignified and wonderful service, a celebration of a life of promise that so sadly ended so poorly."
Mr Morris said he first met Mr James when he came to House of Bread around 18 months ago looking for a meal as he was homeless.
"As the weeks went by I slowly befriended him and was able to get some small details of his life out of him," he said.
Mr James had lived in Stafford for much of his life, but it is not thought he has any family still living in the town. He had lost contact with relatives, partly due to his health.
"One night I was working as a street pastor in Stafford town centre and found him sleeping behind Eastgate Street," said Mr Morris.
"I was able to get some medical help for him and he was taken to hospital in Stafford.
"Sadly, once Dale was 'better' he was discharged back on to the streets. This happened several times until on the last occasion he collapsed in Martin Street."
One day Mr Morris visited him - but hospital staff were unable to tell him where Mr James had gone because he was not next of kin.
"Months went by until one day I was asked to bring a crisis support food bag to a Mr James moving into a flat in Stone," he added.
"It was not until I arrived that I realised it was Dale. It was a welcome relief to find him alive."
Sadly by then Mr James was suffering from dementia, and he was moved to a nursing home in Cannock for the last few weeks of his life. He died in his sleep.
The funeral takes place at Stafford Crematorium at 12.30pm on June 20 and all are welcome to attend.
Anyone who would like to donate should contact Mr Morris on 07720850720.