Community comes to rescue the midwife

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 retired midwife who grew up in Mauritius but served the NHS for 40 years will hopefully be able to look forward to Christmas in her own home after skilled people in their droves answered an appeal for help in last week’s Comet.

Francesse Graham in her wrecked kitchen

Francesse Graham in her wrecked kitchen - Credit: Archant

Francesse Graham, 65, has been left without a kitchen, downstairs 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 town centre hotels and was recently told to return home as funds had run out.

Yesterday morning however project managers, plumbers, carpenters and gas fitters gathered in Francesse’s kitchen to begin planning a renovation which they hope to see complete by Christmas.

Alison Barry who runs her own design company,, has agreed to project manage the transformation.

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.

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

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Lisa Stout, Francesse’s friend who lives nearby, said: “It’s been awful to see her so stressed, she was 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 many family’s who have children with disabilities, including that of little Logan Keir from Stevenage who suffers from a rare immune disorder.

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

Anyone who would like to help out with the project can do so by emailing their name, trade and phone number to