A former homeless man walked distraught from Whitehawk to Shoreham after seeing his only possessions in the world go up in flames.

Steven Weaver sparked a police appeal after going missing on Saturday evening after seeing the £300 caravan he lived in burned down in a fire.

Friends feared the worst for the safety of Mr Weaver until they found him sitting on Shoreham beach.

The distraught 47-year-old walked to Worthing and back in the pouring rain, severely blistering his feet, as he tried to come to terms with the loss of his caravan.

For the past 13 years, Tony Lockwood, from Manor Road in Brighton, had taken Mr Weaver under his wing.

He had helped him find work in his window cleaning business and bought him the caravan which Mr Weaver had been living in for past three months in Whitehawk Crescent.

Mr Lockwood said: “He's been a sofa surfer for most of his adult life, he's never had a place of his own for the last 13 years.

“He has been attached to my hip, I have looked after this guy, he has no family to speak of.

“He got the caravan and he was really, really happy there. He's a wonderful man who just hasn't had the best start in life.”

A search party found Mr Weaver and he returned to Brighton to find a new donation of clothes from Mr Lockwood's family.

Mr Lockwood said: “I think it was just desperation that drove him to walk to Worthing, he just thought there was nothing left in Brighton for him.

“But I told him, there's people here who care about you whereas in Worthing he would have nothing.”

A spokesman from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were informed by the fire service at 8.11pm on 19 October of a caravan alight in Whitehawk Crescent, Brighton.

“Police attended and the caravan appeared secure, the owner was not traced at the time.

“The fire is not believed to be suspicious at this time.”