A SALTCOATS man stranded in the Philippines is due to return to the UK this week.

Robert Gray had been living on the streets of Manila after he was ‘abandoned like a dying dog’ and was unable to return home after the coronavirus pandemic prevented him from making the necessary journey.

But after the Herald shared his story and thanks to the efforts of friends from the Three Towns, Robert is expected to fly back home on Thursday, December 3.

Speaking to the Herald from the Philippines, Robert said: “I know now I can look forward, not back.”

Last week, funds raised by kind donations were used to get Robert off the streets and into a hotel where he was able to wash and eat.

Robert had travelled to the Philippines to start a new life, having taken out his pension in a lump sum and giving up his council house.

But things did not work out had he had hoped and soon his dream became a nightmare.

Robert’s money ran out and he found himself on the streets with nothing but the clothes he was wearing.

When the country went into lockdown due to the pandemic, people over the age of 60 were not allowed to leave their homes and so Robert was unable to travel to complete the necessary paperwork to leave the Philippines.

With the help of the Herald, Councillor Jim Montgomerie, kind donators, a local travel agent and Tats Peregrino, the British Embassy took a hand in getting Robert home.

Councillor Montgomerie said: “Bringing Bobby home would be a great Christmas present for us all who want to see him back in Saltcoats.”

Ms Peregrino, a single-mother with two sons, saw Robert crying in the street explaining his awful situation.

She listened to him and was touched by his story.

She said: “I [gave] him bread and coffee. That [was] the beginning of our friendship and I [brought] him to church.”

Ms Peregrino has been bringing Robert food and trying to look out for him while people in the Three Towns worked to arrange his travel and documents.

Previously a spokesperson for Robert’s family told the Herald: “He will be forever in the debt to the Three Towns and everyone that has helped. He owes you his life, it’s as simple as that.”

A Foreign, Office spokesperson said: “We are providing assistance to a British man in the Philippines.”