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'Fire hero' grandad who lived in tent after being evicted finds new Maidstone home

A grandfather who moved into a tent outside his home of nearly two decades after being kicked out by bailiffs has now found a new home after weeks of living rough.

Paul Wallis was described by some as a hero for helping neighbours escape a fire which ripped through an apartment block in Maidstone last year.

However, the 52-year-old has since been in and out of court over rent arrears, after falling on hard times which saw him suffer injuries, lose his job at the local hospital and spiral into depression.

With unpaid debts totalling more than £3,000, he was then evicted from his two-bed home in Telford House in May, where he had lived for 17 years.

In response, he set up a tent in the front garden, where he had been living with his dog, Cali, relying on donations from neighbours to keep him warm and fed.

Paul claimed to have been told that his "heroics" during the evening the blaze started meant he would be provided with extra help in avoiding the prospect of eviction.

Golding Homes, which owns the property, said it could not comment on his actions on the night of the fire but said its team were in contact to support him with his rent arrears prior to seeking eviction.

Paul Wallis and his dog Callie in their new home in Brenchley House. Picture: Chris Davey. (13698736)
Paul Wallis and his dog Callie in their new home in Brenchley House. Picture: Chris Davey. (13698736)

Paul said it would break his heart to have to leave the house, adding that he didn't feel safe anywhere else, and was determined not to give up Cali, turning down some offers of accommodation which wouldn't allow pets.

However, he was then served with an injunction order from Maidstone County Court, ordering him to leave not just the premises of Telford House but a far wider area, stretching from the Esso garage on Boxley Road to the corner of Grecian Road and Wheeler Street.

He packed up and left are a week of living in the tent, but part of the order was later lifted, meaning he was able to temporarily stay with the friends and neighbours who had helped him out post-eviction.

Now, he has finally found a bedsit in the town centre to help get back on his feet, and - most importantly for him - a place where Cali can also stay.

Paul Wallis and his dog Callie in their new home in Brenchley House. Picture: Chris Davey. (13698808)
Paul Wallis and his dog Callie in their new home in Brenchley House. Picture: Chris Davey. (13698808)

"I've had to lose everything and go right down to the bottom of the ladder before going back up again," he said.

"It's been a really tough few weeks but I was lucky to have so many good friends and people around the area who helped look after me.

"I was really down and it got to the point where I was considering giving up Cali, so to find a place where she is welcome as well is amazing.

"Now it's just a case of getting my benefits sorted and starting my life again - hopefully one day soon I can move back to somewhere with a garden that we can enjoy."

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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