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'Faith in humanity restored' by act of kindness from plumber to dying woman

Credit: MEN Media

A plumber who carried out work for an elderly woman who is terminally ill with leukaemia has gone viral after sending a bill for £0 and promising to look after her to her dying day.

James Anderson, 52, who lives in Burnley, and is a father of five children and grandfather of three, sent the invoice to the 91-year-old woman's family which said:

Calllout to Boiler high pressure and 2 leaks... lady is 91 years of age acute leukaemia end of life care Amount 0.00

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hour to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible. "Depher CIC"

– Boiler invoice

The invoice has gone viral and has been shared widely on Twitter.

Mr Anderson explained that her daughter, Christine, had contacted him as she had a problem with her boiler.

I went round on Sunday September 8th and it was clear that the expansion vessel in the boiler had gone," Mr Anderson said. "I ordered the part so that I could make the repair.

"But for the next few days, I popped into her house every morning and sometimes in the afternoon and evening to check on the boiler so that her house would be kept warm."

– Mr Anderson

Unbeknown to her family, Mr Anderson sent the invoice that went viral by email to the woman's daughter, without telling her the work would be free.

The lady's daughter posted the invoice on Twitter and it has since gone viral. Credit: MEN Media

"I just went on to my next job," he explained. "At first, the lady - Christine - didn't understand what I meant when I'd said it was free. She was absolutely over the moon and amazed.

"I told her not to worry about her Mum and that we'd look after her for any work that needed doing."

On Sunday, Mr Anderson was at his grandson's christening when his phone started going mad as the tweet was shared. "It was just phenomenal, it skyrocketed," he said.

When I first visited the lady, she was just lying on a bed chair in her living room and she didn't look too well. I had to help and I can't not do it for free."

– Mr Anderson

He visited her again on the 9th, 10th and 11th of September at least twice a day to check that the boiler was working and that she was warm.

The part was fitted on the 12th of September and then it was shared on social media and went viral at the weekend.

The woman's family described Mr Anderson as "a star" and said they were grateful for his kindness.

Mr Anderson, who is originally from Liverpool, runs Depher Community Interest Company - similar to a charity - which has offered discounted (and sometimes free) plumbing work to more than 2,300 elderly and disabled people since it was established in 2017.

"We do the work for free when funding is available," he explained. "If funding isn't available, I try to do it for a discount of around 25% to 50%." The organisation recently had a £2,000 grant from the Duchy of Lancaster to boost its work.

"When I was visiting the lady, it was just like going back to my Nana when she was alive," he said.

Mr Anderson reckons that it would have cost around £468 had he invoiced the family for the work. Had the boiler needed replacing, it would have cost an additional £1,800 to £3,000 depending on the boiler.

He became inspired to start the CIC after visiting a disabled man who was being fleeced by another plumber, but had the nous to get a second opinion.

He had been charged £170 for a call out and the radiator and hot water tank had been manipulated by the plumber to make it appear faulty.

Mr Anderson said he warned the plumber to rectify the work or he would contact the media - and the matter was sorted out.

When he got home that night, he said he was sat at his computer and "it wouldn't leave my mind what that guy had done."

He says he will stay in touch with the family as "without a doubt, they are like family to me. No doubt, I will give them a ring of pop in for a cup of tea," he added.

Mr Anderson believes he is such a "good person" because there's "too much hate in the world. It's not difficult to be nice, is it?" he added.

At the end of the day, we're all part of the same family living on a rock in space. If we don't look after each other, it's a very sad place that we live."

– Mr Anderson