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A new start for Billy, thanks to the kindness of strangers in Newmarket

A homeless teenager, who came to Newmarket and lived in a tent on the heath for three months, now has a job and somewhere to live after being given a helping hand by townsfolk.

Nineteen-year-old Billy Edwards decided he wanted to start a new life when he lost his supported accommodation in Essex earlier this year, and headed to Newmarket with his partner, Richard Godby, who had worked in racing but had been badly injured in an accident.

When they eventually ran out of money, Billy headed up to the sales complex at Tattersalls to see if he could find work, which was where he came to the attention of Anne-Marie Nelson, who worked for a cleaning company owned by John Gilbert, who runs Newmarket’s Racing Centre, and which had a contract with Tattersalls.

Billy Edwards with Emma O’Gorman, Anne-Marie Nelson and Fran Imrie at the Wall Box kitchen.
Billy Edwards with Emma O’Gorman, Anne-Marie Nelson and Fran Imrie at the Wall Box kitchen.

“Billy had been in the system for a while, he lost both his parents when he was young and we are going to help him where we can,” said John. “At 19 he has a lot of learning to do but with the right help he could have a good career and make a decent life for himself.

“He has been working for us at Tattersalls and we have been able to put him on to a couple of other contracts.”

Billy’s new job soon brought him to the Wall Box kitchen and cafe, run by former jockey Emma O’Gorman and Fran Imrie, who provide all the cleaners at the Park Paddocks sales complex with free tea and coffee.

“When we met Billy and heard his story we wanted to help him,” said Emma. “He had had a really rough time but he was trying his best to do something about it and he was such a nice lad.”

She and Fran started a collection on the counter in the cafe, called Billy’s Tin and, in just two days, more than £1,000 had been donated by Tattersalls staff and countless buyers and vendors at the sales.

“Billy became quite a celebrity,” said Fran. “We were amazed by the response we had, everyone really wanted to help.”

Money was also donated through the charity Sunday Suppers, which helps the homeless, and it has been used to pay a deposit and a month’s rent in advance for lodgings for Billy and Richard in Exning Road.

Billy, who left school with no qualifications, is now determined to make a future for himself and said he loved his new job in Newmarket.

“The kindness I have been shown by people who didn’t even know me, has changed my life.” he said.

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