Band of Builders beat the "Beast from the East" to renovate sick girl's home

Published:  16 March, 2018

More than 60 builders spent a week battling against sub-zero temperatures to transform the home of a sick little girl.

Members of the Band of Builders travelled from across the country to spend eight days working round the clock to revamp the Hertfordshire home of toddler Sadie Jenkins and her family.

Sadie, who’s two, spent the first ten months of her life in hospital after being born with a range of complications.

When the toddler finally came home, she had had a tracheotomy and a tube inserted to help her breathe, meaning she has to sleep in a makeshift bedroom in the front room.

After hearing about her family’s plight, the Band of Builders - an organisation that helps tradespeople in need - decided to transform the home, adding a downstairs toilet for Sadie’s carers to use overnight without waking the family and making a bedroom fit for a princess for Sadie’s sister Isla, aged four, and Sadie herself when she is well enough to move upstairs.

Using state-of-the-art plaster and paint to limit any negative effects on Sadie’s breathing, they also redecorated the rest of the house, installed a new boiler and landscaped the family’s garden to create a safe place for Sadie and Isla to play.

Band of Builders also paid for the family to go to Center Parcs - their first holiday as a family - while the work was carried out.

But the project, in Hoddesdon, ran into trouble when the "Beast from the East" hit the UK, bringing sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow.

Tradespeople worked through the night, defrosting the ground with blowtorches and putting out a public appeal for the road to be gritted so deliveries could get to them.

The group completed the project despite the adverse weather, and unveiled the Jenkins’ transformed home to them in an emotional ceremony attended by members of the local community.

Sadie’s mum Nicola, 33, said: “Seeing the house for the first time was absolutely overwhelming - it really will change our lives. At night our carers usually have to leave Sadie to go to the bathroom upstairs, which isn’t ideal - having a downstairs toilet changes all that. And the rest of the house is beautiful - absolute perfection.

“I wanted to shake everyone’s hand and cuddle everyone but there were just so many people. The fact they have given up a week’s wages to come here, especially with this weather, means so much. Thank you is just nowhere near enough.

“Today is one of those days we will never ever forget. We will treasure this moment forever.”

Sadie was born with a hole in her heart and a narrowing of the aorta, as well as Pierre Robin sequence - a set of abnormalities affecting the head and face, including a small lower jaw and blockage of the airways.

She underwent surgery within weeks of being born, including an emergency tracheotomy. She is often connected to a machine to help her breathe.

Dad Carl, 32, a plasterer who has helped on previous projects with Band of Builders, said: “I had no idea how much they were going to do. The whole house is amazing. The extra storage means I’ve even got my dining room table back, which we haven’t had space for since Sadie was born, so we can finally sit down and eat dinner as a family. This really has changed everything.”

The project was supported by Jewson, which crowned Band of Builders founder Addam Smith Trade Hero of the Year in 2017 as part of its Building Better Communities awards. Other materials were also donated by companies such as British Gypsum, Howden and Bunnings, including plaster, a new boiler and kitchen doors.

The local community in Hoddesdon also rallied around to help the tradespeople. Neighbours brought food and drink, local restaurants and chip shops gave free meals, and other trades from the area came to lend a hand.

The project is the latest undertaken by Band of Builders, which is applying to become a charity.

Last year the group built a sensory garden for a special school in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and installed a summer house for fellow tradesman Dan McIntosh, who had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, to give him somewhere to make memories with his family.

The organisation was founded by Addam Smith, who carried out a project to renovate friend and colleague Keith Ellick’s home after he was diagnosed with cancer, enlisting help from tradespeople from across the country.

Addam, from Lincoln, said: “When we heard about little Sadie and everything she and her family have been through, we just wanted to do something to help.

“This has been the hardest project we’ve done - the Beast from the East really tried to break us but it didn’t manage to. Thanks to the efforts of the guys and the amazing support from the local community, we got it done and have really made a difference to Sadie, Carl, Nicola and Isla’s life at home.”

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