The homeless and needy in Totnes will have a merrier time this Christmas thanks to the fundraising efforts of big-hearted former rough sleeper, Graham Walker, and the bountiful generosity of townsfolk.

Graham is overwhelmed with the response to his appeal for food, clothing and equipment for the homeless, which the people of Totnes have supplied in “bucketloads,” he said.

Tons of edible donations poured in, along with gifts of clothing, cash and even sacks of presents for two orphaned 10-year-old twins.

It was an “absolute delight to see the recipients’ smiles and appreciation,” said Graham, adding: “It’s been amazing.

“I’ve been given brand new rucksacks, tons of food, socks, clothes and a tent; all of which I have personally delivered to three or four homeless guys in the town.

“They were very taken aback and very humble about it - as humble as I was to receive these gifts - and very grateful.

“People have been very thoughtful. For instance one homeless guy, all he’s got is a little burner, so people have given lots of meals in a tin, like meatballs and stew.

“But I’ve also had Christmas cakes, tons of chocolate….and socks, because when you are homeless, a clean, new pair of socks if your feet are damp is the most uplifting thing you can have.”

Graham continued: “These gifts will help these homeless guys have a nicer Christmas.

“One guy in particular who lives in a caravan with no heating or lighting was just overwhelmed.

“He’s now got enough food to last until the end of January, which means he has no great concerns for a while about what he is going to eat and what he is going to wear.

“Totnes has once again proved it is full of good people.

“I am very humbled at what’s been given and what I have handed on.”

Graham also thanked the town’s Morrison’s store for its donation to a family in the town.

Morrisons have been unbelievable,” he said.

“There are a pair of twins in town who are orphans, who were fathered by a homeless guy in Totnes.

“I asked Morrisons if they would donate a couple of presents for them and they brought over two huge bags of Christmas gifts all wrapped up for the twins, and a Christmas hamper for the gran who looks after them.”

As well as collecting for the homeless, Graham has been selling Christmas cards on Totnes high street in the weeks running up to Christmas in aid of Bob the Bus and Totnes Caring.

His gargantuan efforts have raised more than £2,200, which will be split between the two charities.

A stalwart fundraiser, since he first became homeless some 23 years ago Graham has raised some £150,000 for various charities in towns across the South West, but mainly in Totnes.

But now his age and bouts of ill health have caught up with him, and Graham has decided to call it a day.

“Although I say it myself, I think I’ve earned a break,” he said.

“At the age of 67, I’m a bit drained really.

“It’s quite physically demanding being on the streets, but just as much it’s emotionally demanding to receive such a lot and the acts of kindness and generosity from people – I get quite emotional about it all.

“I shall leave Totnes a happy man.”

After celebrating an early Christmas with his son and granddaughter who visited from Bristol, Graham is looking forward to a quiet Christmas day at home with his parter, Pip, and step-son.

He added: “I know I said last Christmas was going to be my last year, and the year before that, but I had cancer a while ago and with the chemo I’m not quite firing on all cylinders these days, and now I’ve got a bit of heart problems too so I don’t really want to spend the winter sitting on the streets.

“I’m looking forward to spending Christmas day in front of the log fire with maybe a brandy or two.

“I shall just be having a quiet day reflecting on what I have achieved over the years and the wonderful people that I’ve met in Totnes.

“A lot of them are now really good friends so I’m very fortunate really.

“I bow out with a sense of warmth at what I have achieved and what Totnes has given me over the years.”

Resident Fiona Green thanked Graham for “the joy” he has brought to Totnes over the years.

“His tireless efforts on the streets here, fundraising in all weathers for local charities, supporting the homeless and generally bringing warmth and care to others, is pure love,” she said.