Death of homeless man touches a community

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George Lowery considered Williamson Park in Lancaster to be his home.

For five years he slept out under the stars, then woke to the morning call of birds and an unrivalled view of the lake.

He told friends and those who brought him blankets and food in the colder months that he couldn’t think of a more beautiful or peaceful place to live.

Even his passport was addressed Williamson Park, Wyresdale Road, Lancaster.

In a few weeks George, 54, was due to move into a new flat near the park. But on Monday morning, tragically, he was found dead by park staff.

Tributes have now been paid to the “kind and gentle” bearded homeless man who loved animals, and was well known by many who shared his love of Williamson Park.

Ambulance crews were called to the park at around 8am and attempted to revive him, but he did not respond and he was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was pronounced dead.

Police also attended the scene but said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.

His family have been informed.

A former trawlerman from North Shields in Tyneside, George came to Lancaster around five years ago following a few years in Cornwall.

Dog-walker Andrew Hill, from Lancaster said he was a “cracking bloke”.

“We used to chat when I was walking through the park,” he said.

“There was no harm in him, and if you stopped to have a chat, he was very pleasant to speak to.”

Jill Abbott, who recently took photographs of George as part of a project she is undertaking for Lancaster animal rescue charity Wolfwood said: “George was very fond of animals, particularly dogs, and knew all of the dogs, and their walkers, in the park.

“He was a very kind and gentle man, and always positive and cheerful despite his circumstances.

“He will be much missed.”

Another friend of George’s, who did not wish to be named, said that he had a passport with Williamson Park as the address.

She added that he had always had a love for nature and the outdoors, and had befriended a duck at the park, which followed him everywhere.

He also spent evenings talking to people on the bench in front of the lake, sharing a drink or two.

It is thought that George’s funeral will take place in his home town, but that there would be a ceremony within the grounds of Williamson Park at a later date.

There are also plans to raise money for a bench in his memory.

Suzanne Lodge, head of health and housing at Lancaster City Council said: “It was with great sadness that we heard of the death of Mr George Lowery.

“George’s body was found earlier this week in the park by a member staff during his daily check on him.

“George had been sleeping rough in the park and the council’s outreach homeless prevention officers have been working with him for some time in an attempt to encourage him into accommodation. George was a well-known character in Lancaster and sleeping rough was something he chose to do and appeared to enjoy.

“As such, George steadfastly refused any help from our homeless team or any other statutory agency.

“He declined all offers of accommodation and access to health services.

“Our officers had built up some trust and confidence with George recently to the extent that he agreed to move into temporary accommodation close to the park and this was to happen in the next week or two.

“Council officers and other agencies did everything they possibly could to assist him and this is a very sad time for all those who knew him.”