Businessman Andrew Carnegie, who spent six months sleeping rough in London years ago, will return to the streets for a sponsored sleepout in aid of a homeless charity in Chippenham.

Former lighting shop owner Mr Carnegie, 51, has pledged to brave the bitter cold and sleep under the stars along with fellow fundraisers to raise money and awareness of people forced to live on the streets.

He is doing so in support of Doorway, Chippenham, a drop-in centre for the homeless.

It is a way of life Mr Carnegie knew only too well, having lived rough himself in the mid-1980s despite having a successful job and income at the same time.

He said: “A long, long time ago, in the mid-80s, I left the Army and straight off things happened to me. I began running the audiology services at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, but for about six months I was struggling to find accommodation.

“I had money and a job but I wasn’t always able to find a place to stay because I couldn’t afford to pay for long-term accommodation straight away. I was sleeping in places like Woking station. I’m perfectly normal and I have gone on to run a business; I just fell through the system for about six months.

“I was a healthy, young man with a good job in London yet I was effectively homeless for six months. I haven’t got an insight into what it is like to be permanently homeless, although if I had lost my job I would have been stuffed.”

Mr Carnegie decided to help after speaking to a classmate on a college course about their involvement with a crisis centre in Bristol.

“We started talking about it and I hadn’t really considered how much of a hidden problem homelessness really is,” said Mr Carnegie, who now runs a medical firm after closing his lighting business.

“It’s a significant underlying problem for a lot of people and it can affect people from all walks of life.

“It’s hidden, and because of that you just don’t see the scale of the problem.

“I will do this, and I may not get a good night’s sleep, but I can go home in the morning and have a hot bath and get some food inside me. I can’t even get my head round what it must be like to be permanently homeless and I hope I raise as much money from this as I can.”

Seagry Community Church has pledged last week’s collection money towards Mr Carnegie’s fundraising.

The sponsored sleepout on January 25 takes place in St Andrew’s churchyard, Chippenham, from 7pm to 7am in aid of Doorway.

It is the centre’s fourth sleepout fundraiser and this year celebrates the charity’s 10th anniversary.

For more about Doorway, or how to take part in the sleepout, call (01249) 445385.

To sponsor Mr Carnegie, visit