A major community makeover campaign to transform a home for a brave tot with a rare medical condition has begun in earnest, with an army of volunteers coming forward to carry out vital work.
The Gazette has teamed up with MKM Building Supplies, in Alnwick, to launch the Aid For Aidan appeal. The DIY SOS-themed initiative aims to overhaul the property that the parents of Aidan Jackowiak Smith purchased last week.
The three-year-old has Cloves Syndrome – which has only been diagnosed in around 130 people worldwide – and suffers severe swelling to his face and body.
The renovation job at the family’s new home – at Fire Station Cottages, in Alnwick – was a daunting enough task, as the property was in a bad state of repair; the crumbling kitchen, condemned boiler and damp issues were just some of the problems.
But, on top of this, Aidan’s parents, Vikki and Karl, are determined to make it suitable for their son’s needs, complete with sensory garden, wheelchair-suitable doorways, ramped access and a lift from the dining room to the youngster’s bedroom.
That’s why we decided to step in and take action – calling on helpers with varying skills to come forward to help transform the property.
And a host of recruits have already stepped up to the plate. Last week, we ran a series of Aidan Days, encouraging volunteers to help strip the property in preparation of building work to start.
Since then, the kitchen units have been pulled out, skirting boards have been removed, the wallpaper and carpets have been taken away and a dilapidated conservatory dismantled.
Gazette editor Paul Larkin is delighted with the response to the appeal for help.
He said: “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who offered their time for the Aidan Days and for the people who have said they will help further down the line.
“The keys were only handed over for the house last week and great progress has already been made as we strive to make this house a home for Aidan and his family.”
Those who have helped during the Aidan Days include Vikki Boe, of Candy Castle Alnwick, Coun David E Clark, from Morpeth Town Council, and Hipsburn’s Jonathan Kay, who belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Nathan Purvis, of Amble’s K&N Purvis Builders, Kevin Wright, from MKM Builders, and Amble men Karl Taylor and Steven Patterson also offered their services. Members from Amble’s Lionheart Cleaning Services, and Peter Griffiths, of plumbers M Marshall and Sons, in Shilbottle, have helped, while Sanders Plant & Waste Management Ltd, from Pegswood, has supplied a skip for free.
Meanwhile, Robert Porteous Roofing, has installed new guttering. The previous gutters were overgrown with moss and weeds.
The fantastic response has enabled building work to start this week.
However, there is still plenty that needs to be done to make the home habitable and crucially, suitable for Aidan’s needs.
One of the big jobs ahead will be to clear, level and landscape the overgrown back garden, while further down the line, the property will need to be decorated.
Anyone who can with the DIY project should call Paul Larkin or James Willoughby at the Gazette on 01665 602234 or Gordon Webster, at MKM, on 01665 606977.