An 84-year-old pensioner joined volunteers to sleep out rough for the night to raise awareness of homeless veterans from the armed forces.

Brian White joined nine other members of the Royal British Legion’s Becontree and Chadwell Heath branch who have raised almost £1,500 for armed services veterans finding themselves on the streets.

The retired GPO electrician from Dagenham does electrical repairs and odd jobs for the branch and also looks after its small memorial garden in Becontree Avenue where the Great Tommy sleep-out was organised.

So it was almost like home-from-home when he settled down for the annual fundraiser on a chilly night in the wind and rain at the end of March.   

The idea was to replicate 6,000 veterans sleeping rough in this country every night, according to branch secretary Jimmy Hepworth.

“Veterans often struggle with civilian life when they leave the services,” Jimmy said. “They have to take on responsibility to pay bills and run a household.

“Yet many have post-traumatic stress. They’ve seen friends killed or lose limbs.

“It’s difficult to adjust and they usually don’t talk about their experiences which get bottled up inside them.”

Jimmy, a 55-year-old charity transport driver from Becontree, organised this year’s sleep-out and recruited four leaders from the 6th Dagenham Scout Group, who helped with collections outside Morrisons supermarket and also supplied shelters to sleep under — as well as taking part themselves.

The scout leaders were Paul Robinson, James Richards, Charlie Horne and Stuart Bailey, all from Dagenham.

Others joining them along with Brian were Falklands RAF veteran Chris Young, 61, from Becontree; college instructor Paul Hewson, 62, from Dagenham; rail track maintenance inspector and British Legion social club chairman Dale Bagge, 42, from Rainham, and Charlie Wilson, 40, a plumber from Collier Row.

Another branch member, John Janes their poppy convenor, did a sleep-out on the pavement outside Sainsbury’s Camden Town supermarket in north London.

The Becontree branch marked its centenary in September.

Its oldest member is John King, who will be 100 in November.

John is a Royal Navy veteran who was on HMS Janus when it was torpedoed in Italy in January 1944 off the Anzio beachhead.

He plans to go to Normandy in June for the D-Day landings anniversary.