Homeless St Albans man trekking around England for charity

Phil Bradshaw and his dog, Lucky.

Phil Bradshaw and his dog, Lucky. - Credit: Archant

A homeless man is trekking 2,000 miles around England’s coastline to thank a charity for saving his best friend’s life.

Phil Bradshaw's dog, Lucky.

Phil Bradshaw's dog, Lucky. - Credit: Archant

When Phil Bradshaw found a lump on the body of his rescue Staffordshire bull terrier Lucky, he was living in a St Albans hostel and unemployed.

The 48-year-old would never be able to afford an £800 veterinary surgery bill and was despairing it was the end for his dog.

Phil said: “I was panicking because Lucky is my world and she hasn’t left my side since I got her as a rescue 11 years ago.

“I have two children and if one of them had a life threatening disease, it is devastating and you would do anything to get it fixed.”

 Phil Bradshaw

Phil Bradshaw - Credit: Archant

He was indebted to charity StreetVet, which stepped forward to remove the tumours for free.

To thank them, Phil is embarking on a four month journey around the English coastline to try and raise £20,000.

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He sets off from Southampton on July 17, following the South West Coast Path, through Wales, over the Lake District, past Glasgow and Edinburgh, and down the east coast and into London.

When StreetVet took Lucky in Phil said “the weight of the world” was lifted from his shoulders: “It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. I am so grateful, there was no judgement of my situation.”

Phil has had numerous bouts of homelessness since he was 17, often triggered by destructive binge drinking. When it happened, he resorted to sleeping in graveyards and bus stops.

“In times of stress I went back to drinking and it didn’t help with my relationships, which have broken down. Everytime I would get settled and get a job, something would happen and it would go downhill.”

He has “thrown away good careers” in both security and sales before he became clean, Phil said, and has advice for anyone currently down on their luck: “Maybe you have had a bad past and made some mistakes and think no-one will give you a chance but you need to rip the plaster off, you have to face your fears and then you can build a new life. Life isn’t over yet, there is no need to hit the drugs or alcohol.”

Phil has already received donations for the journey, including camping gear and a push buggy for Lucky.

StreetVet is partnered with the International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/iapwa/streetvet?social_utm_term=cc87qkb48