Facebook plea saves Leith OAP left with no heating during snow

An 80-year-old left without water and heating when blizzards hit the Capital was kept warm after a selfless plumber answered a cry for help on Facebook.

Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 7:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th March 2018, 7:32 am
Thomas Lee and his daughter Helen Lee Keenan are very grateful to Ali Speakman for saving the day

Thomas Lee, from Craigentinny, discovered a blocked kitchen sink and after 
struggling to plunge the sink himself, he called on his daughter to rescue him.

“He was really distressed,” said Helen Lee-Keenan, 56. “Thankfully I only live around the corner.”

When she arrived she could see that water was flowing from the washing machine waste pipe and had flooded the kitchen.

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“Water was pouring from the pipe and dad was wading in the kitchen with buckets. It was a total disaster.”

But that was not all. The leak was only stemmed when the frail grandfather’s heating was turned off, leaving him without heating as the snow and wind raged outside.

Helen could not take her dad round to her home because the former butcher and Lothian bus driver cannot be moved without a wheelchair or walking aid.

Diagnosed with bone cancer in 2014, Thomas spends one day a week at St Columba’s Hospice. Helen said: “He’s very self-sufficient but he can’t be in the house with no heating or water. Because of the cancer he feels the cold quickly.”

After waiting on the phone to the gas board for an hour and a half, she decided to take the matter into her own hands.

She put a call out for help on the I Love Leith community page and was soon inundated with messages of support. Within an hour help was at hand in the form of Ali Speakman of Speakman Gas Services, whose wife had spotted the family’s plea.

Keen to help but knowing that the severe weather could stop him in his tracks, Ali offered his services.

He said: “Right away I wanted to help. To know someone’s dad and grandfather is sitting in the cold isn’t nice.”

Because it turned out to be a simple fix, Ali was able to talk Helen’s son through the boiler reset process.

It was the sixth boiler the gas engineer and plumber repaired over the phone during the bad weather and he did not charge a penny for any of them.

“It was really rewarding. It’s such a good feeling when someone’s got their heating back on. I always hope that when something like this happens, someone takes heed and pays it forward.”

Helen was blown away at the community spirit that rallied around to help her dad in his time of crisis.

“It was amazing. To be honest if it hadn’t been for the Leith Facebook page I wouldn’t have known what to do.

“We’re just really grateful that people still care and are willing to help.”