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Stroke victim is a 'prisoner in his front room' – so these hero builders are stepping in to change that

Keith Parry is a prisoner in his front room. This band of volunteer builders are stepping in to help change that

Keith Parry, credit: band of Builders

Keith and Linda Parry spent four “wonderful” decades of married life together.  But on an “ordinary day” in 2021, everything changed.

“In the morning, he said, ‘I’m just so tired.’ So I told him to go back to bed for a bit,’ Linda recalls. “Later I heard him stumble when he was coming up the stairs. Then I heard him fall into the wardrobe.”

“I came in and I knew instantly – he was looking at me totally blank. I said ‘My God Keith, you’ve had a stroke.’”

The debilitating stroke robbed the dad-of-three of his speech and mobility. After seven months in hospital, doctors told Linda that a nursing home was the only option.

“I said, ‘No way, he’s coming home, where he belongs,’” she said. 

“When you get married, it’s in sickness and in health. And that’s the way it is with us, we live by those rules. He would have done the exact same for me.”

Linda had a specialist bed and lifting equipment installed in the lounge of their home. Keith has slept there ever since.

Local healthcare professionals refer to the retired joiner as ‘Harry Potter’ – as he “basically lives below the stairs” – but the affectionate nickname doesn’t disguise Keith’s total lack of privacy and facilities.

“It’s been very hard for him… it’s hard for dignity,” Linda said. “It’s difficult for everyone, but I just think, there’s no use me moaning, we have to get on with it.”

Luckily, help is at hand. Band of Builders (BoB) – a group run by volunteer tradespeople – is stepping in to build Keith a new ground floor room.

The charity completes practical projects to help members of the UK construction industry and their families who are battling illness or injury. They are supported by Citroën UK, using vans provided by the company.

“We’re gearing up for Keith’s project, and already a lot of members of our community up and down the UK have signed up to take part in the project… which is amazing,” said operations director Tony Steel.

But they can’t do it alone, he added.

Keith and Linda Parry. Credit: Band of Builders

“We’re hoping that a few local tradespeople will come and join the project as well – not only to provide much-needed help in the construction of the new bedroom but also to see what the Band of Builders community is all about in supporting fellow tradespeople who have hit hard times,” Steel said.

BoB need plant workers, bricklayers, builders, roofers, plumbers, electricians, decorators to build Keith’s new room. You can sign up here.

Linda has been “overwhelmed” by the charity’s support. “It’s amazing. It’s going to make such a difference,” she said. “He’ll be able to drive his wheelchair into the garden.”

Due to the house being built on a steep bank, Keith has only left the house three times in the last two years. Local ambulance crews and the fire service have had to assist.

But with work nearing completion on an exterior wheelchair lift, “better times” are on the horizon.

“If we can get out of the house, we can just go for a sit in the park, or a walk around the block,” Linda said. “He wants to go to the pub for a nice lunch and a beer, I’ve promised we can do that.”

“That’s all he wants, it’s what we used to take for granted.”

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