Offers of help for former midwife Francesse flood in as task force to renovate her ruined kitchen comes together

These are just a few of the task force of craftsmen, traders and project managers who have offered t

These are just a few of the task force of craftsmen, traders and project managers who have offered to help Francesse - Credit: Archant

A former midwife who grew up in Mauritius but served the NHS for 45 years, will hopefully be able to look forward to Christmas in her own home after Stevenage traders came together to answer an appeal for help in the Comet.

Francesse Graham in her wrecked kitchen

Francesse Graham in her wrecked kitchen - Credit: Archant

Francesse Graham, has been left without a kitchen, running water, heating and plumbing after her kitchen was flooded when a drain exploded.

During a six month battle with her insurance company to resolve the situation Francesse has spent most of that time in a hotel.

The 65-year-old suffers from diabetes and heart problems which the stress of being turfed out of her own home has exacerbated.

This morning however after the Comet was inundated with offers of help in response to last week’s story, project managers, plumbers, carpenters and gas fitters gathered in cat lover Francesse’s kitchen to begin planning the transformation which will hopefully see it complete by Christmas.

Alison Barry who runs her own design company,, has agreed to project manage the transformation and spend time wit Francesse to help her plan the redesign.

She said: “I can’t see how this cannot be done in the time frame given all the wonderful help we have had from local traders this morning.

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“Francis is now looking forward to choosing the kitchen with Howdens of Letchworth and choosing tiles at Topps Tiles in Letchworth.

“We’re all looking forward to seeing photographs of her hopefully on Christmas day sitting down to eat her Turkey.

Lisa Stout, her friend who lives nearby, said: “It’s been awful to see her so stressed, she’s been absolutely heartbroken when the kitchen flooded.

“It’s been horrific and really stressful for her but it’s nice to see her so upbeat now that something is being done.”

Shane Johnson is also backing the project. His team have helped transform gardens for family’s who have children with disabilities on numerous occasions, including that of Stevenage’s Logan Keir who has a rare immune disorder.

He said: “I’m up for it, we’ll crack on and get it done”.

Francesse’s daughter Andrea said: “It’s just been an ordeal with constant calls to the insurance company. It has definitely affected her health with the stress of everything.”

Comet reporter Martin Elvery added: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the response to our plea to help Francesse, it is truly heartwarming to see, especially in the run up to Christmas.

“I would like to personally say a massive thank you to everyone who has offered their help so far and can’t wait to see the project coming together.

“She is a lovely lady and deserves to have a comfortable home to enjoy her retirement.”

Alison is currently putting together a team and liaising with the insurance company to get the project moving.

Anyone who would like to help out can do so by e-mailing their name, trade and phone number to