Hero builders transform brain damaged dad’s house for free so he can finally leave hospital


A group of selfless volunteers are giving a man who was left with brain damage a DIY SOS-style makeover – which will mean he’s able to return home to his family.

LancsLive said the project will see modifications made to the home of Howard Holden, a former building surveyor who suffered unexplained heart failure in his sleep in 2020. As a result, he was left brain damaged and is currently at a live-in brain injury unit in Garforth, near Leeds, with plans to return to his home today (March 6).

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National charity Band of Builders have been busy working on the modifications to Howard’s home since last weekend, with volunteers from across the country stepping in. One such volunteer is Rick Davies, a plasterer who traveled from Bolton to volunteer and offer his expertise to the project. He said: “I saw that Band of Builders were looking for a plasterer on their Facebook page and I jumped at the chance.

“So far I’ve done two days work at Howard’s house but I will be returning on Saturday to see if there’s any cleaning up or finishing touches to be done.

“I love doing stuff like this, by volunteering my time to help someone else – I’ve done DIY SOS a couple of times now and just giving that little bit of your time can make such a massive impact on someone else’s life.

“Even the most mundane of tasks is such a small sacrifice for me but incredible for them. It’s honestly better than any paid job you’ll ever have.”

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Rick Davies, from Bolton, working on Howard’s project

The modifications needed for Howard’s dormer bungalow include an extension to the downstairs bedroom and the installation of a downstairs loo.

Rick said: “I would say there have been around 20 volunteers for the project when I’ve been there and people just volunteer and chip in with what they can. Even if you’re not a trained tradesperson, it doesn’t matter because even carrying things and getting rooms ready or making brews is a real lifeline.

“You don’t know who is going to turn up with projects like these but even a small, mundane task from one person mounts up to be a huge help – everyone is treated equally at Band of Builders and I’ll always make time for things like this.”

Another of the volunteers for Howard’s project includes Cafe 88 based in Accrington, which has been providing food for the volunteers at the site all week.



The Band of Builders volunteers
The Band of Builders volunteers

Owner Darryl told LancsLive: “We were initially approached to help by Ellen, the lady who works for Band of Builder’s PR and we said yes before she even finished her sentence. Things like this are what Cafe 88 is all about, we do a lot for the local community.

“Basically, we put a noticeboard up in the cafe and customers can buy certain things and then that money and food has gone to the volunteers. On the first day, we sat over some breakfast but then on the Saturday there was about 20-30 of them so we made dinners instead which included soup, rolls and cold sandwiches.

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“My wife will be putting on a spread for them in the next few days as well.”

Unbeknown to Darryl, Howard’s project had a closer meaning than he first thought, with Howard’s wife Sam being an old friend and customer of his for many years.

He continued: “I didn’t know this but Sam actually comes into the cafe with her children when we put events on and I worked with her years ago as well. Ever since I’ve been following the Band of Builders progress on Facebook and it’s amazing to see the local community of restaurants, pubs, tradespeople and the general public banding together to help.

“On the first day we were in the midst of a storm and there was torrential rain but two of the volunteers were still grafting and what they managed to achieve in one day is just phenomenal. We even found out that one man had traveled from Scotland just to pitch in for the day – it will be amazing when Howard returns.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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