Vigil held for tragic heart op man Glen

Glen Williams
Glen Williams

A poignant vigil has been held in memory of a former homeless man who died earlier this month.

On a cold, dark evening in Leigh town centre, family and friends of Glen Williams gathered around a spot just off the high street, where he frequently sat with his beloved dog China, to remember the 48-year-old who died just over two weeks ago.

Tragically, Glen collapsed in the street on October 12, less than two months after undergoing open heart surgery.

He had been homeless for the majority of the last 20 years, but had been given a property not long before his tragic death.

He was believed to be recovering well from his operation, but his condition began to deteriorate not long after securing a roof over his head.

He was described as a “very lovely” and “polite” person who was always “trying to turn his life around”.

And last week, just metres away from where he died, dozens of people - several of the town’s homeless people among them - gathered around pictures and messages to him, before releasing balloons into the air.

Fittingly, the vigil was held on the anniversary of his mother Sheila’s death.

Margaret Atherton was the kind-hearted resident who organised the event. She believed the accommodation had come too late for Glen; the decades of sleeping rough taking their toll on his health.

“We can’t just give them a flat and expect them to cope, that’s not a solution,” she said.

“They need facilities, and rehabilitation. He had no money, no help. It’s a huge problem.”

Attention is now turning to helping more of the borough’s rough sleepers, particularly as the nights grow darker and colder as winter approaches.

An online fund-raiser had been set up to cover the costs of Glen’s funeral, but after relatives stepped in to fund it themselves, all money raised will now go towards the Homeless Support Project.

A Wigan Council spokesman said: “We are very sorry to hear this and send our condolences to Glen’s family at this time.”

If you know of or spot someone sleeping rough during cold and icy conditions, you can telephone the Housing Options Advice Centre on 01942 489005 who will try to help anyone who is at risk.

You can also call contact the homelessness project, The Brick, on 01942 236953.