A dad-of-two suffering with an incurable form of brain cancer has praised an “inspirational” group of volunteer tradespeople from across the UK who teamed up to help him just a few years after he did the same for someone else.
The team from construction charity Band of Builders (BoB) descended on Hereford to help finish work at the home of Kyle O’Connor, who volunteered himself on a similar project in his home town in 2019.
Kyle, partner Rachel, stepson Harry (17) and daughter Lottie (10) had been living with an unfinished extension and loft conversion ever since the 41-year-old construction teacher suffered a seizure in December 2020, leading to the diagnosis of an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer.
He has since undergone surgery, radiotherapy and is currently receiving a 12-month programme of chemotherapy, meaning the former Royal Engineer could not complete the work himself.
Instead, a team of volunteers from BoB – a registered charity that completes practical projects to help members of the UK construction industry who are battling illness or injury – rallied round to help complete work to the family’s dormer bungalow in Kingsthorne that Kyle had been left unable to finish.
Some 35 volunteer tradespeople – including carpenters, tilers, bathroom fitters and general labourers – spent eight days carrying out work to help finish parts of the family’s home, before revealing their work to the family in an emotional handover over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Kyle – who is a multi-skilled tradesperson and a qualified surveyor, plasterer, decorator and tiler, as well as a secondary school teacher, said: “I’m over the moon. At Iast I can relax and focus on my health and enjoying precious time with my family. It’s all down to a group of inspirational characters, some I already knew, some I didn’t, but who already feel like friends – Band of Builders.”
Partner Rachel said it was difficult to find words to express the family’s gratitude to the Band of Builders’ team, saying: “You will not know the joy and relief that it has brought to Kyle and all of us. We are completely in awe of you giving up both your time and daily wage for us, who are complete strangers to most of you. To also come together not knowing each other and work as a team is such an amazing feat.”
The project was particularly poignant for Band of Builders – with Kyle having volunteered himself on another project in 2019 to build a cabin for 15-year-old Kyle Sisson, who has cystic fibrosis, so he could be home-schooled and spend time with friends without risking his health. The teen was among the well-wishers who welcomed Kyle home.
Project lead Jake Anderson – a veteran of half a dozen BoB projects – said: “It was an honour to be given the role of project lead. Four months of careful planning culminated into an exhilarating eight-day project. The volume and quality of work my team provided was truly humbling, with trades often working into the early hours. The ethos on site was proven when two carpenters went home to settle their children then came back to work into the night.
“I hope this project gives Kyle a comfortable, happy environment to complete his chemotherapy program and enjoy life with his family for many years to come.”
Kyle’s Project was BoB’s 24th project to date. The charity has more than 10,000 supporters from across the construction industry and is backed by major names within the industry, including DEWALT, Jewson, Tarmac, Gibbs & Dandy, V12 Footwear, Talasey, Resideo and Haemmerlin.
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Photos courtesy of Band of Builders: