THE family of a former Ilkley man are desperately waiting to hear from him after his house and possessions were destroyed by Hurricane Irma.

James Heward, 51, known to his family as Jamie, lives with his partner Veronique Thieffry on the hurricane-devastated French territory on the island of St Martin in the Caribbean.

His sisters Julie Collinson, of Addingham and Paula Matthews, of Ilkley, brother Carl Heward, of Baildon Moor, half-sister Adele Mosey, of Guiseley and his only son Felix Heward, who lives in France, are now searching for information about what has happened to Jamie - known as Jimmy on the island - so they can help him to rebuild his life there or bring him home to Ilkley, where he lived for the first 20 years of his life.

The couple worked at a popular restaurant on Galion Beach called Tropical Wave and a Facebook post reported it was completely destroyed by the hurricane however all the team were reported to be alive.

Julie, 63, a retired nurse who worked at Wharfedale Hospital for 30 years, is confident he survived the hurricane but says she is still anxious as she has not received a message or a phone call yet. She said: "My sister Paula spoke to him the night before it hit the island and he was tearfully scared.

"He told Paula there had been some evacuations of elderly and infirm from his area, but the rest had to prepare a safe place in their homes and to have food and water to last a couple of days. He and Veronique, and pet dogs, had prepared the house and windows as best they could.

"After the hurricane we could not get in touch with him, and haven't since. The island is obviously completely devastated as it was hit full on. There was no power so even if he has a working phone, it will be out of battery and/or credit."

Julie, who has visited St Martin on a number of occasions, said her brother normally uses Facebook/messenger to keep in touch regularly, and he had sent her a Facebook message the night before the hurricane hit.

"He said he hoped his house would hold up (but it didn't) and wished he was with us in UK. He had said he wanted to return to UK before, as the island was becoming a bit 'lawless' and there wasn't enough work all year to sustain them. There are verified reports of a lot of looting going on, as food and supplies are very short, many are scared now as some of them have weapons. All of which has led to very anxious sleepless nights as we realised the severity of the situation from seeing them."

Julie has put in a lot of work trying to contact her brother, joining missing persons lists and tracking down his friends on Facebook. She managed to get a message from his son's mother, who lives on the island who told them Jamie's rented house was demolished but she saw no sign of Jamie or Vero, which they have taken as a good sign as there were no bodies.

Julie added: "He never had much money before, just working hand to mouth during the tourist season in the bars and restaurants, repairing small boats and handy man stuff. He did love the ' beach bum life' and managed to last 25 years, but now he may need our urgent help to initially survive, or perhaps help to return to Ilkley, if that's what they decide to do, to find work, as there will be no tourist industry in the Caribbean for months, probably years to come. If there is any work he may find work repairing homes or businesses eventually but initially will need support.

"But until we find them their family and friends can't do anything to help them financially. I also know his passport had run out of date, which won't help right now.

"Maybe the Red Cross might help, but people are desperate for food, water and shelter, and search and rescue. So I'm trying not to bother them, as there may others worse off than him, like scared stranded tourists with little support not knowing anyone.

"I'm just hoping he will get in touch. The BBC news said that they are sending a British Consulate to help British people who are on non-British islands. So I wish I could find him to tell him this."