Band of Builders descend on home of wheelchair-bound plasterer to make life-changing adaptations

Band of Builders descend on home of wheelchair-bound plasterer to make life-changing adaptations

A group of kind-hearted tradesmen and women have descended on Holland-on-Sea to make changes that will allow a wheelchair-bound plasterer to finally get in and out of his home freely for the first time in years.

The project by Band of Builders, a charity that helps tradespeople in their hour of need, started on Bank Holiday Monday (May 27th) will see John Coburn be able to use his garden and get in and out of his house without help for the first time since December 2012, when he collapsed with a potentially fatal brain aneurysm.

John, known as Jonnie, 55, from Holland-on-Sea in east Essex, had been a self-employed plasterer for more than 30 years. The aneurysm left him fighting for his life and he spent the next 14 months in hospital and a rehabilitation centre.

Jonnie finally returned home in April 2014 but has been left wheelchair bound. He has had no access to washing facilities as he now has to sleep downstairs and it is difficult for him even to leave his home.

Jonnie’s condition means even everyday tasks are difficult for him and wife Jackie and the whole family have been under huge strain, both emotionally and financially.

To make their lives easier, the family received funding for an extension that will include a wet room to allow him easier access to washing facilities that Jonnie has had to do without since his collapse.

The funding they received didn’t quite cover all of the extension plus landscaping to the garden to allow Jonnie to be able to go outside, so Band of Builders, a charity set up to help other members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury, has stepped in to help.

On Bank Holiday Monday (May 27th), nine volunteers from across the country descended on Jonnie’s home to start a five-day project to completely landscape the garden at Jonnie’s home allowing him a safe way to get in and out of his home and enjoy his garden – something he also hasn’t been able to do since he fell ill.

Tim Height, project lead from Band of Builders, said: “Jonnie and his family really have been through the mill since his aneurysm in 2012. On top of the health implications of what happened to him, they’ve had to cope with him being unable to access wash facilities and the struggle to get in and out of the house.

“At the moment Jonnie can’t get in and out of the house without it being a struggle for both him and Jackie using a makeshift ramp, and he hasn’t been to the end of the garden since his collapse. We’re completely landscaping the whole garden and making it much more practical for Jonnie in his wheelchair. He’ll be able to get in and out of the house more easily and will finally be able to enjoy his garden.

“As with all of our projects, sometimes it’s the simple things that make a huge difference and we’re hoping that our contribution will help make life-changing improvements to the whole family’s quality of life in the future.”


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Band of Builders was formed in 2016 after landscaper Addam Smith asked for help to renovate the garden of his friend and employee Keith Ellick, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Keith lost his battle with cancer in 2017 but Band of Builders continued with the aim of helping other members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury. Band of Builders was declared a registered charity (Charity Number 1182283) on March 1, 2019.

Previous projects have included:
● Installing a specialised bathroom for Pippa Atkinson, an electrician’s daughter suffering from a rare skin condition
● Landscaping a garden for builder Jamie Thompson, who is suffering from Motor Neurone Disease, so he can safely watch his children play, as well as installing a new kitchen.
● Creating a bedroom for plasterer’s daughter Sadie Jenkins, who had spent the first half of her life in hospital and needed machines to breathe, as well as installing a downstairs bathroom for her carers.
● Installing a summer-house and landscaping the garden for carpenter Dan McIntosh, who was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, so he could spend precious time with his family.

For more information on how to become a member or how to apply for help from Band of Builders take a look at our website