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Romford Market pays tribute to homeless ‘Bill’

PUBLISHED: 06:11 13 February 2015 | UPDATED: 06:11 13 February 2015

The Romford Market community is paying its respects to homeless

The Romford Market community is paying its respects to homeless "Bill" who died last week.

Archant

Tributes have flooded in from the community on social media dedicated to a “lovely” homeless man who was a popular character among Romford shoppers.

Cyril Stoddart – who preferred to be known as Bill – died last week at Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, after suffering with an infection for more than a month.

But his death has not gone unnoticed in Romford Market where he often visited as many traders and shoppers have taken to Twitter to pay their respects.

Tributes described him as a “happy and friendly” man.

Romford Market also tweeted: “Sad to hear of Bill’s passing on Thursday.

“A lovely character who was well known in Romford.

“RIP Bill, keep warm”.

There are many rumours about Bill’s life, including that he owned a pack of wild dogs, that he was secretly wealthy, and that he started living on the streets after his family was killed.

The pensioner – who is believed to have been 79 when he died – told stories to the market traders about how he used to work at a tyre company in Ilford and then with rescue animals at the PDSA.

Graeme Gibbons, toiletry stallholder and friend to Bill for 20 years, said: “He was one of a kind – he had a hard life but always managed to survive.

“I am very proud to have known him and I doubt I’ll ever have a nicer friend than him.”

Bill spent a lot of his time in Romford Market where the stallholders would give him free food and clothing.

It is believed that he made up a campsite in woodland in the borough, creating campfires to keep him warm during the cold nights.

Debby Spiteri, a stallholder in the Market Place, said: “He loved the outdoors – he often shared his dream of owning a boat and floating off into the sunset.”

Bill has one known sister, who Queen’s Hospital is trying to get in touch with.

The stallholders have launched a tin drive in Bill’s memory for the Salvation Army so all donations can be given to Graeme at his stall outside the 99p in the Market Place.


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