The heartbroken sister of homeless veteran Darren Greenfield has spoken about her emotional goodbye to her “hero” in hospital.
Grieving Asten Robertson, 33, rushed to her brother’s bedside where she was told he only had hours to live and to say her final farewell.
The family has organised a private cremation in Scotland before a memorial service in London – something that “Darren would have wanted”.
Asten, 33, said: “I got a phone call on the day he went into hospital from my sister saying he had an infection. When I got there I expected to see him sat up and talking. Instead, he was on a life support machine and I was told he’s also had a stroke. I had two hours to say goodbye to him. He was my hero. When he came out of the army in 1998/99 there was not the help that there is available today. The damage was already done. He refused lots of help within the family.
“Our family is grateful for the many messages we have received after the loss of Darren. He was a proud person and this is what he would have wanted.”
Darren struggled to adapt to life after leaving the army and, as a result, was a regular at the top of Waverley Steps begging for change.
He died on December 17 after contracting an infection as a result of long-term health problems while sleeping rough.
Darren’s story touched the hearts of the Capital and it led to the Ancre Somme Association Scotland setting up an online crowdfunding page to help pay for his funeral.
The appeal has raised £3,167, but the funds will not be used for Darren’s funeral after Armed Forces charity SSAFA put forward the cash.
Darren’s family has thanked the association for its gesture and has asked that money raised through the crowdfunding appeal be donated to SSAFA.
A group of Scottish Freemasons, The Mark Wright GC Memorial Fund, had also revealed plans to donate £1,000 to the cause.
However, following the request from Darren’s family, the trustees will now donate £500 to SSAFA and £500 to Ancre Somme Association Scotland.
An Ancre Somme Association spokesman said: “The association has been overwhelmed by the public’s support on our crowdfunding page. Darren’s family are sincerely grateful to the general public for their donations. The donations will close on February 18 and a final cheque will be forwarded to SSAFA.”
Asten added: “We would like to thank the SSAFA for paying for his funeral costs. The crowdfunding campaign was set up without our knowledge and I have asked organisers to stop taking donations. I have asked for the money raised to go to the SSAFA so it will go towards other veterans.”