The wife of a father of two – who was left with severe brain damage after suffering heart failure – has paid tribute to Band of Builders (BoB) after they built a ground-floor extension so that her husband could finally go back to his Oswaldtwistle home after nearly two years in a rehabilitation centre in Leeds.

In an emotional homecoming, Howard Holden – who was surrounded by his wife Sam and daughters Daisy (14) and Tilly (12) – was greeted by friends, well-wishers and tradespeople from BoB, who completed a project to extend his house in just 12 days.

Sam thanked the gathered crowd and said: “You’re brilliant, fantastic people, and for Howard it’s going to make a massive difference – not just to be back home but to help his recovery, as he’ll be able to have his own space to relax in a safe environment.”

She added: “I know that people say we’ve been unlucky about what we’ve been through, but how can we be unlucky when we’ve had the pleasure and the honour of meeting such an amazing group of people.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the volunteers and everyone who donated food and materials. You make the world make sense.”

Howard suffered unexplained heart failure in his sleep in April 2020. Despite wife Sam and daughters Daisy and Tilly performing chest compressions until paramedics arrived, Howard was left with severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen to his brain. Sam said: “Ever since that day, it’s been a nightmare.

“From coming so close to losing Howard to having to watch him relearn everything, it’s been a difficult road for all of us. Covid restrictions combined with the distance have made it difficult for us to see Howard, and we have had to rely on Skype or Zoom when really we just wanted to be together. There have been so many ups and downs along the way as time has gone on, and at times we thought he would never get to where he is now.”

The 55-year-old, who was put in a medically induced coma for two weeks, has since had to relearn everything, from walking and talking to eating, at a residential brain injury unit in Leeds, more than 60 miles from his home.

Howard has worked in the building trade for most of his working life, including 14 years as a plasterer before he retrained as a building surveyor at the age of 50. His current condition means he now suffers from severe fatigue, mobility issues and other brain-injury symptoms, such as confusion and short-term memory loss. 

Billy Thomasson, volunteer project lead for the project to help Howard, said: “Howard and his family have been through something no family should have to go through, and it’s safe to say every single one of us wanted to do what we could to get him back where he belongs. The team of volunteers have been incredible and worked so hard, and it’s all worth it to see Howard come home.”

Knauf UK and Ireland's National Accounts Director, Samantha Hanks, said: “It’s a pleasure to work with Band of Builders, a fantastic charity providing vital support for tradespeople within our industry, with the goal of improving people’s lives. When we read Howard’s story, we wanted to support the former plasterer and his family. We are proud to have helped convert Howard’s family home into a safe environment for him to return to, so the family can be all back together under one roof.”

Other suppliers and supporters on this project included: Lee Brothers, Jewson Tool Hire, IDM Doors, Markovitz, Mobile Mini Solutions, Greengates, Talasey, Ceramic Tile Distributors (CTD), SIG Roofing, Tarmac, Travis Perkins, MKM and Speedy.

The project attracted plenty of national media attention, being featured by the BBC, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Independent, to name but a few – as well as a raft of local media, such as Lancs Live.

This has been the 22nd project to date for us, and we’d like to say thank you to our more than 10,000 supporters from across the construction industry and some of the major names within the industry that also back us, including DEWALT, Jewson, Tarmac, Gibbs & Dandy, V12 Footwear, Talasey, Resideo and Haemmerlin.