Band of Builders Restores Freedom for Father of Four Suffering Rare Disorder

A FATHER of four suffering from a rare neurological disorder has regained his independence thanks to a group of tradespeople from national charity, Band of Builders.

The Band of Builders group included two kind-hearted roofers who generously gave their time and skills to work on a project to create easier access to the family home.

Chris Joy, 42, was left struggling to get in and out of his home without help after he was diagnosed with rare degenerative neurological condition, Cerebellar Ataxia.

The condition – which affects just 10,000 people in the UK – means Chris suffers from symptoms including loss of coordination, double vision, balance issues, speech issues and tinnitus and has to spend 50% of the time in a wheelchair.

As well as having to stop work as a plasterer, Chris was struggling to get in and out of his home in Cringleford, Norwich, because the driveway and pathway were too uneven for his mobility scooter.

Band of Builders

Chris gained his new-found freedom after a team from Band of Builders – a national charity that helps tradespeople through practical projects and support – spent eight days overhauling the outside space to ensure Chris can get in and out more easily.

In a project that was originally due to take place earlier this year but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, a team of volunteers descended on Chris’ home on October 10, giving up their time for free and using materials donated by various companies in the construction sector.

Roofing volunteers

Many of Band of Builders’ impressive list of past projects have included a significant roof refurb element that has seen charitable manufacturers and roofers generously do their bit by donating materials, their time and skills for free during their weekends and holidays.

On this project, Chris Norfolk, 42, from Hertfordshire helped seal the roof on a shelter that Chris uses to store his mobility scooter in.

Chris, who has been a roofer for nearly 25 years, said: “Band of Builders is an amazing charity. I’ve been on five projects now and every experience is beyond words. I’m not rich so can’t give loads of money to help others but I have skills that I know can benefit other tradespeople that need it. Knowing that my time can improve just a small part of their lives is enough for me.”

Chris was joined by another roofer, Jamie Wright, 48, from Norwich, who has worked in the roofing industry for over 30 years. He is currently working across Norfolk for various companies but has worked as a roofer all over England, America and Canada. Jamie laboured on the project as well as helping with the roofing on the mobility shelter.

Help and support

He said: “I have had a keen interest in the Band of Builders for ages and wanted to get involved. Although my profession is a roofer, I knew that I could help on this project in other ways. I decided to apply for Chris’ project and got accepted, I was overjoyed to be chosen and felt it was a real honour. Whilst working for the Band of Builders project I have felt overwhelmed by the help and support from the other tradesmen and have come to realise there is a large amount of tradesmen that are willing to give their time for free. I will definitely give my time again and feel immense satisfaction to have worked on this project.”

In just eight days, the driveway has been revamped, the paths landscaped and a new lowered entrance door to allow wheelchair access to the property was installed before revealing the project to Chris and his family.

Chris said: “We’re still in shock really. We were here while the project was underway and the atmosphere was amazing, but seeing it complete for the handover and everyone who had been involved just blew us away. It might not seem like much to some people, but these changes will give me so much of my independence back, they’ll make a real difference.

“Band of Builders really is an amazing charity. The volunteers travelled from across the country just to help us, giving up their time and, for many, their earnings just to do something for a complete stranger. It’s amazing. We feel so lucky.”

Sponsors and donators

The project was sponsored by Jewson and landscaping supplier Talasey. They, along with other suppliers from the construction sector contributed around £10,000 of materials to help the project take place. The work was carried out by a total of 25 volunteers, who travelled to Norwich on different days to contribute to the project.

The volunteers were also treated by members of the community in Norwich, who kept them fed and watered, including volunteers from local groups ANON and FABB, who provided meals for the team every day throughout the project.

Band of Builders volunteer Tony Everett, who was project lead for Chris’ project, said: “It’s been an amazing week and seeing the help this will give to Chris and his family is why we do what we do. The changes we’ve made will transform their lives and make everything that little be easier.

“We’ve been waiting to start this project since earlier in the year, so despite the delay it’s been brilliant to actually be able to crack on and get it done. A huge thanks to everyone who has supported us, from big companies who donated materials to the groups who fed us everyday.”

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