A POPULAR Basingstoke man has taken his life after succumbing to mental health pressures, loved ones said.

James Bowman, 26, died on Friday, November 27, at his home in Beggarwood.

Described as “one in a million”, friends said the former doorman had recently started a new role working for the Youth Commission to help tackle knife crime.

Speaking to The Gazette, close friend Catherine Davis, 27, said: “James was an amazing person who always put everyone else above himself and would be there, no matter when you needed him. He was always there putting the pieces back together for me. He lit up the room with his smile

She said: “He struggled during lockdown but this feels so unexpected. It’s weird because this was the year his life was turning around. He had just joined the Youth Commission and was helping work on tackling knife crime. He had just bought a new laptop and desk, all ready to do his police course. He just wanted to help people."

James was a volunteer with the Prince's Trust and helped out at the YMCA.

James grew up in Buckskin and attended Richard Aldworth School. He lost his mother 14 years ago to cancer and leaves behind two sisters and his father.

In recent years, he lived alone in Beggarwood with his two cats Garfield and Harley. After previously working as a doorman for pubs in the Top of Town and at a funeral directors, James hoped to train to join the police and had a strong passion to help others. He was due to receive an award from the Police and Crime Commissioner yesterday.

Catherine has launched a fundraising campaign to give James "the send off he deserves". She said: “He is sadly missed by so many people, I just wish he knew.”

Catherine said her message to people is to check on their friends. She said: “Even if it’s just a text it can mean so much, especially during lockdown. James was on his own. I know he was feeling it, lockdown has been horrible and the mental health services aren’t always much help. People ring to see how you are and you’ll just say ‘I’m fine’. It’s not the same as seeing someone face to face.”

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