‘John has brought us all together’: Ely teacher Fleur and friends team up to help find ex-serviceman a new home

Jo Morrell, Jo Wagstaffe, John Gough, Tracy Bott and Fleur Patten.

Jo Morrell, Jo Wagstaffe, John Gough, Tracy Bott and Fleur Patten. - Credit: Archant

An Ely teacher raised £3,000 to help an old school friend and ex-serviceman who was faced with being homelessness.

Fleur Patten embarked on the fundraising mission two months ago after discovering that the facility that housed service veterans in Wolverhampton, where her friend John Gough lived, was being closed due to financial difficulties.

With the help of her friends, Facebook and JustGiving, Fleur has gone on to raise almost £3,000 – enough money to help re-home John and five other veterans.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Fleur, a teacher at Ely College. “People in this area who have never met John have been very generous, as well as people in the USA, Australia and France.

“Locally, Dawn Fisher has donated her well-earned cash raised from the 22 press-ups in 22 days challenge, Jamie Cranwell has printed T-shirts to publicize John’s appeal and musician Will Law has donated one of his CD’s to the cause.”

Mr Gough was placed into housing after returning from serving in both Iraq wars in 2003 with leg injuries and PTSD, and Fleur decided to step in to support him after learning he had attempted to take his own life.

“We needed to do something immediately,” said Fleur. “John was in trouble through no fault of his own. He has attempted suicide in the past and he was not in a position to help himself.

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“Everything was so overwhelming. I felt that I had to do something and a Facebook group and a JustGiving appeal seemed something that I could do from afar.

“John came from the same place as us, we can all fall on hard times and, although we haven’t seen John for years, we needed to help him.”

John has since settled in at his new home, but Fleur is determined to raise even more money to help his recovery.

“We had two objectives,” she said. “The first was to get John housed and set up. He has few material possessions of his own so we needed to buy the basics to set up home.

“The second is more long term. John wants to study counselling when he is back on his feet, and work with other veterans. He has dog handling and climbing qualifications and is interested in becoming more active to aid his depression.”

And last month, the group of friends re-united for a drink in their old hometown in Shropshire.

“It was great to meet up and show John that we mean business,” Fleur said. “Facebook has been an amazing way of reaching out but I think that meeting up showed that we are committed.

“It’s important to feel part of something and John has brought us all together - it’s helped us to feel useful as well.”

To find out more or donate, search ‘Support John and Friends’ on Facebook or visit Fleur’s JustGiving page.