Former bricklayer Tom Knapper from Stoke-on-Trent was recently diagnosed with cancer of the liver (which is currently under control), has had two heart attacks and also suffers from arthritis. His illnesses mean that he can no longer maintain the house he built for his family in 1970 – and it was starting to fall into a state of disrepair.
Band of Builders made a series of vital repairs on his home, but the standout feature of this project was the opportunity for Tom to speak to our team of tradespeople – because he had really missed the camaraderie on a building site since he retired. He told local media that he’d seen more people in one weekend than for the last couple of years (because of Covid restrictions).
6 tradespeople volunteered to help Tom to stay safe, warm and secure in the home he built
Tom Knapper is a former bricklayer with a career that spanned more than 50 years. He was too young to be called up to fight in World War II and instead helped build new council homes for returning war veterans. He worked on a site in Bentilee, Stoke-on-Trent, which at the time was the largest new council estate in the UK. During his 50-year career, Tom also repaired the brickwork inside bottle ovens that were used in the local pottery industry – this was a skill that few brickies were able to master.
Tom’s health has deteriorated and, coupled with the passing of his wife June a couple of months before the pandemic, he has been unable to maintain his bungalow.
It was Tom’s son Adrian who contacted Band of Builders asking for help for his dad after seeing the widespread news coverage of the home transformation that volunteers carried out for Robert Lamb, a quantity surveyor from Solihull who was left paralysed after suffering a severe spinal cord injury when he fainted due to low blood pressure.
The project was undertaken over a weekend in December 2021.
As Tom is no longer able to keep up the maintenance on the house that he built himself, Band of Builders carried out a series of repairs and renovations in three key areas. The garage roof required work to repair leaks and make it watertight again – this was especially important because Tom spends a lot of time in his garage. The central heating system required a much-needed service to improve the warmth in Tom’s home. This also included changing the taps in the house to levers to make them easier for Tom to operate, due to his arthritis. The paved steps outside the front door had become a trip hazard for the 93-year-old, and these were replaced to create a flat, sturdy walking surface.
All works were undertaken by volunteer tradespeople from across the country using materials donated by the construction sector.