Warm welcome home for William following kitchen makeover
Published by Kelly Elliott for Cestria Community Housing in Housing and also in Communities
Back l-r Mark Fort (Cestria electrician), Maxine Duffy (health visitor), John McKernan (Cestria voids and adaptations maintenance manager) and Jamie Coglan (Cestria electrician) with, front, Catherine Wray and Chris Morris with their one-year-old son Will
A housing association has stepped in to help a couple whose young son has finally returned home after spending most of the first year of his life in hospital.
Little William Morris was diagnosed with leukaemia at just seven weeks old and spent the next 10 months undergoing treatment at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, including chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
His parents Catherine and Chris were delighted to be told they could finally bring their son back to their Chester-le-Street home in May, but there was a problem – they were in the middle of renovating and, having spent much of their time in hospital with their son, had been unable to complete the job.
With William’s immune system weak following his transplant, it was essential that the family’s home, in Ridley Avenue, was as clean and dust-free as possible.
Thankfully, their health visitor Maxine Duffy hit on the idea of contacting their local housing association, Cestria Community Housing which, when it heard about the family’s plight, was only too happy to step in and help.
Cestria’s team of expert electricians and joiners quickly completed the work, meaning William was back home in time for his first birthday last month.
Mum Catherine Wray, 28, said: “It’s been a really difficult year and with Chris and I spending so much of our time in hospital with William we just didn’t have the time or energy to think about the house.
“We were talking to Maxine about it and joking that we would need something like DIY SOS to get it all finished in time, then Maxine had the idea of contacting Cestria.
“They were brilliant – they fitted the kitchen we had bought, painted the walls, handled all the electrics and even finished the little jobs like fitting the skirting boards, laminate flooring and wall tiles.
“After everything that has happened over the last year it was so lovely to be in our own home, surrounded by friends and family, to celebrate William’s birthday.”
Cestria’s voids and adaptations maintenance manager John McKernan said: “When Maxine contacted us and explained William’s situation we instantly agreed to get involved – our teams were in the area anyway carrying out improvement works to our own properties so it was our pleasure to help out.
“The family had already bought a kitchen and started the work so it was a case of finishing everything off and making sure the house was safe and ready for little William – seeing him home and happy is the best thanks we could ask for.”
The work has been praised by health visitor Maxine, who regularly visits the family as part of One Point – an integrated service run by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Durham County Council which provides support, advice and a range of activities for children, young people and their families.
She said: “I knew that Cestria owned properties in the area and just contacted them on the off chance in case there was anything they could do.
“I can’t believe what a great job they’ve done and it means so much to Chris and Catherine – having William home at last is just wonderful.”