A Spider-man-loving little boy finally has a bedroom for Christmas thanks to good Samaritans who stepped in after a builder allegedly ran off with £10,000 of his family’s money.
Five-year-old Theo Hallam was left sleeping in his family’s dining room for more than a year after an unscrupulous tradesman reportedly took the cash as a “deposit” - and never returned.
Mum and dad Zoe and Jamie Hallam, of Saltburn, said they were left devastated by the theft, and approached fundraising group the Fat Lads on Bikes to recommend an honest replacement to carry out the work needed on their home.
But after hearing of their plight, chief “Fat Lad” Neal Bullock, of Ingleby Barwick, did more than just recommend tradespeople - he gathered his troops to make sure Theo’s room was shipshape in time for the festive season - without them having to go into even further debt.
Neal, who had recently undertaken a similar project to create a sensory room for South Bank youngster Millie-Mai Mann, said: “The family did all the right things - they got quotes from a few different places, checked them all out, and they decided to go with this particular builder.
“Zoe suffers quite a few health problems and is very ill, so they’d moved from a bigger house to a one-bedroom bungalow which already had planning permission for an attic space, which was supposed to become Theo’s bedroom.”
Zoe, 36, looked the builder up a trade checking website, which flagged up no issues, so when he asked for £10,000 up front of the approximate £23,000 total cost, for materials, the family handed it over in good faith.
Neal added: “They handed it over and he was never seen again.
“It left their little boy without a bedroom. He slept in the dining room for 15 months.
“We were contacted by Zoe, asking if we could recommend a builder. She said she had lost all confidence with the building trade.”
Neal then contacted his friend Shaun Cooper, who runs Aspect Plastering, to see what the “lads” could do.
Working on the family’s remaining budget of £17,000, Neal, Shaun and others including Michael Harrison of Harrison Roofers, pulled together to do the work at cost price.
Zoe said: “I couldn’t believe I got conned.
“He looked at my little boy and said ‘I’m going to make you the best blue room in the world’. To say that to a child knowing you’re not going to do it is horrendous.”
Zoe went through the courts to try to get her money back, costing the family in the region of an extra £2,000 in costs, but when the builder apparently went bankrupt, she knew there was no hope.
She said: “We got quotes from others, but I just didn’t trust anyone.
“I contacted Neal because I wanted to know who they’d used. I knew if they’d worked with the Fat Lads they must be trustworthy.
“Neal and Aspect Plastering have been so kind to us. I’m so overwhelmed to think that people who don’t even know me would put themselves out to do this for me.
“It’s restored my faith.”
Theo’s room is now almost ready for him to move into, complete with Spider-man-themed walls and furniture.
A special graffiti wall has even been created in the room thanks to the Ellen Timney Foundation, who brought in artist Dan Walls.
Zoe said: “Hopefully he can move into his bedroom soon. I just need to get the money together to decorate and put carpet down, and the bathroom’s going in soon.”
Neal added: “It’s a nice ending to the year. There are some unscrupulous people out there and they’re not going to win.”
Source: Evening Gazette