A Watford man has opened up about going from years of homelessness to scooping his dream job as the “Eco-warrior of Watford”.

Jamie Burnell was left homeless after a relationship breakdown forced him to live underneath Garston platform with his dog Scrappy.

The 40-year-old said: “Being homeless is such a lonely place.

“People look at you like they just stepped in dog muck.”

Jamie said Scrappy his dog became his world after the breakup, adding: “Scrappy came first, he would eat before I fed myself.

Watford Observer: Jamie Burnell working in the River GadeJamie Burnell working in the River Gade

“He was my best friend at the hardest time in my life but I have always had the drive and belief I was better than being homeless."

At one point he had to give him up to get a room in a shared house, but after all his struggles six years ago he was eventually housed by the council.

Jamie, who has previously struggled with alcohol and drugs, said he is “striving to be the best version of myself” and hopes to rekindle a relationship with his two children.

After getting off the streets, the 40-year-old got a job maintaining rivers and parks for the Community Connection Project in 2019.

Watford Observer: Jamie on a walk with his dogJamie on a walk with his dog

He said locally he is known as the “Hippie of Cassiobury Park” and the “Eco Warrior of Watford” – due to his work preserving the local environment, and having dreadlocks!

“I absolutely love my job,” Jamie said. “Seeing the effects one man can have on the river.

“I get so much support from regular park users and I'm really thankful to be doing what I'm doing.

“It's not about me or anyone else - I'm doing this for mother nature."

He also warned that littering is one of the biggest drivers of degrading rivers – as light rubbish like crisp packets blow into wildlife’s habitats.

Jamie added: “People assume they can drop litter where they like.

“When people go behind a tree to do a little wee I urge them not to leave their wet wipes even though it says they are biodegradable.

“It still takes it 80 years.”

For more information on the Community Connections Projects visit its website here.