A painter and decorator is offering his services for free to people in need after being inspired by a family he met last year.
On Facebook, William Leggatt, from Swansea, has pledged to spend one weekend a month helping those who’ve fallen on hard times due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, house fires or financial struggles.
In the week since he posted the status, around 1,000 families have already come forward looking for help.
This isn’t the first time William has donated his time and resources. Last year he helped the Stevens family by redecorating their house for free after mum Angela was diagnosed with terminal cancer and their son Michael, who has autism, was taken into care.
“The feel-good factor from helping them inspired me to do more,” William, 27, told HuffPost UK.
“I do it because I can and because it feels right.”
William, who owns local business Paint Pots Swansea, met the Stevens family early last year after posting a similar advert offering free help on Facebook, which was spotted by someone working with social services.
At the time, Angela, who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was due to have an operation to remove multiple organs because the disease had spread.
The family were dealt a second devastating blow when they were told Angela’s cancer was terminal and the time was particularly difficult for Angela’s husband, Leon, who was juggling care for his wife and their 16-year-old son.
“My wife’s diagnosis was torture to be honest with you,” Leon told HuffPost UK.
“Michael has autism and severe learning disabilities - we needed help.”
To make matters worse, the family were due to move into a house that needed refurbishing and during the turbulent time, Michael was temporarily taken into care.
After hearing their story, William was determined to do what he could to make a difference.
“I put their house back together for them, for the mum to be sent home to die,” he explained.
“When social services told me that [Angela’s cancer was terminal], helping was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to do it.”
Along with some of his friends, William set about giving the house a makeover free of charge, including sanding down the walls, painting and wallpapering. He also got in touch with paint manufacturers Dulux who offered to donate dented tins of paint for the project and future charity jobs.
Leon said knowing his wife had a calm environment to come home to made a huge difference.
“At the time everything was so up in the air, I wouldn’t have been able to get around to doing the decorating,” he said. “I didn’t have the time and my head wasn’t in the right space to do it.
“When my wife came out of hospital, the house was practically finished. It was nice for her to come home and see the property had had a makeover.
“Funds were low at the time, so I wouldn’t have been able to pay a decent painter/decorator - William’s done an amazing job.”
Angela and Michael are now both back at home and William has remained in contact with the family, providing support.
“We have kept in contact and he says ‘anything you want, just pick up the phone’. If we need anything moved or if we are stuck, it’s nice to know there’s somebody I can ring and he would help out,” Leon explained.
“We’re getting back on track now really, things are looking up - we’ve got a nice decorated house.”
William found the experience of helping the Stevens family so rewarding, he offered to give up his time before Christmas to help BBC’s ‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’ for Children In Need.
To apply for help, simply share your story with William in the comments or via a Facebook message. He’s looking through responses and preparing a short list of people he aims to help.
“Everyone’s had their struggles... I’ve got two children and sometimes people need help, but they can’t ask for it,” William said.
“The recognition is nice but we don’t do it for that, we do it because we’re able to and some people are less fortunate than us.”
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