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Nine year old boy donates Christmas money

A nine-year-old boy who donated half his Christmas money to help pay the fine of a homeless man has presented a cheque to Julian House.

Freddie Aston, from Newbridge acted after hearing about the arrest of Eli John James, 51, on December 9 for refusing to leave the doorway of the Westgate Buildings Travelodge in Bath city centre. He was sentenced to three weeks in jail and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £115.

When young Freddie Aston heard about the arrest through his yoga teacher mum he was determined to help. Lucy Aston, 39, contacted the Chronicle to explain that she had come to know James after seeing him around the community. She decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help pay the homeless man’s fine, and Freddie was quick to pledge half of his Christmas money. Just five hours later, the target of £115 was reached and the page went on to raise £225.

Freddie and his mum visited us on New King street to present us with a cheque for £225, we will now continue in our efforts to track down Mr James, who has not been heard of since his release, in order to present him with the cash.If we can’t locate him, the money will be kept to spend on their homelessness projects in and around Bath.

Freddie with his mum Lucy Aston

Freddie said: “I just feel really happy that we raised enough money to help that man. I just want to say thank you to lots of the people that gave money.

“It’s really cold outside so I hope the money will be able to help people without a home to find somewhere warm to sleep.”

Proud mum Lucy said: “The fine was £115 so Julian House will get at least £110 out of it, but they’re going to keep trying to find him [James].

“Of course we’re so incredibly proud of Freddie. He plays for Bath City juniors so we were able to get some of the other mothers, players and coaches to donate a little bit each.

“The reaction has been amazing really. We even had a barrister from London donate £50, and it started a good conversation around the issue of homelessness online.

“It was definitely a nice thing to do and we’re really proud of everything Freddie has done.”

Julian House’s community and events fundraiser, Stephen Chesworth, accepted the cheque from Freddie on behalf of the charity.

He said: “We’re very grateful to Freddie and his mum Lucy for giving is this amount of money.

“Every donation is very important so if the public would like to continue to support us that would be extremely grateful.

“We’ve been trying to find Mr James since his release, and we will continue to do so and hopefully pay any outstanding fine.

“The rest of it is for Julian House. It will go towards all our different projects in and around Bath.”