Decorator comes to aid of Lee Rigby House
Two weeks ago a Facebook post warned that a bereavement centre - named after murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby - was struggling to open in time despite a number of bookings from families who have lost loved ones in conflict.
The post was shared a staggering 144,000 times, and one of the people to answer the call for help was James Noll, a Peterborough decorator who pulled together a team of 15 people to visit the Lee Rigby House in Alton, Staffordshire, to get it fixed up.
James and his co-workers from across the country were put up for free in Alton Towers and at a local bed and breakfast - The Warren - as they worked 28 hours over the weekend to renovate the house.
James (41) from Hampton said: “It was just amazing. I’ve just had so many messages saying I should be so proud. It’s overwhelming.
“It was a laugh, they were all good sports. Everybody just pulled together and they all wanted to be part of it.
“A decorator travelled from Bristol who had broken his back and both of his legs after he fell 50 feet from scaffolding. This was his first job in two years.”
The building for the Lee Rigby House was donated by the Kendo Nagasaki Foundation and will be used as a retreat for veterans and bereaved families of armed forces personnel. It will have space for two families at a time.
But, after reading the Facebook post by Keith Lawson which warned that it might not be open in time for its first bookings, James posted on an online forum for decorators and had soon compiled a team from as far out as Manchester and Bristol to join him, including three tilers and a bathroom fitter.
And the goodwill continued in Alton where James and his team, who were giving up their time for free, were well looked after by the locals.
“The community have been amazing, giving us free cake, while cafes were giving us free bacon butties,” James said. “Lee’s mum Lyn said she could not have done it without the team. She thanked me for organising it all.”
Fusilier Rigby would have turned 30 on Tuesday, but he was killed in May 2013 when two men drove into him before hacking him to death in Woolwich, south-east London. The men were later convicted of murder.
James will be back in Alton this weekend to finish off the decorating, and going forward he will continue to be involved with the Lee Rigby Foundation as it looks to expand in the future. He said: “There are another two phases to go after this project. They want me to be project manager. It’s a massive task.”
The Lee Rigby Foundation posted a photo on Facebook of the volunteers outside the house with Lee’s parents Lyn and Ian, adding: “We’re deeply grateful to them all - thanks a million!”