Tuesday 27 September 2016

Elderly woman (83) 'over the moon' after she finally gets central heating thanks to kind-hearted neighbour

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 08/05/2016 | 10:25

Inset: Mick, left, Keith Skelly, right.
Inset: Mick, left, Keith Skelly, right.

A fundraising project to provide an elderly Meath woman with central heating has finally come to an end, and the 83-year-old is now “over the moon” with her warm home.

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In January, Keith Skelly, from Ashbourne, set up a Generosity.com page to raise funds for a central heating system for his neighbour Patricia.

At the time, he wrote that his neighbour is “extremely independent” but was living in a house “built in the early 1970s which has little or no insulation and also no heating system”.

He continued: “To heat her house she has an open fire with no radiators, which means she has to get up in a cold house, get dressed, go out to her back yard to fill and carry a bucket of coal into her living room and start a fire.”

Mr Skelly, who has been living beside the woman for two years, said he tries to help her as much as he can, but when he can’t be there his “heart breaks to think of her straining to constantly keep a fire burning”.

After reading about the fundraiser, a local trader was eager to help and offered to install the heating system for the woman for free.

Read More: Local trader offers to install heating system in elderly woman's house for free

Last week, Mick Keddy, of Michael Keddy heating and plumbing in Tallaght, completed the project.

The key external walls of the home and the attic space are now properly insulated, and Patricia is reaping the benefits of having a new top-class heating system.

John Murry of Potterton-Myson and Sean McManus from Hevac also donated a boiler, radiators and a range of fixtures and fittings to the project.

“Pat herself was nearly crying when the heat went on. She was over the moon with the house,” Mr Keddy told Independent.ie.

Patricia said she was delighted that so many people had come together to help with the project.

“I’ll never be able to thank all the people that have helped this old girl," she said.

“It’s just amazing to wake up in a warm house and not have to put on so many clothes in the morning, go down the stairs, clean out the fire and get a bucket of coal, and then wait for an hour for the fire to heat up a little part of the house.

“I feel like it’s a dream and have to remind myself I have a central heating system,” she told Independent.ie.

She added that “not having to go out in the rain to fill a bucket of coal is just magic”.

Patricia recalled that for the last 40 years, she hadn’t let any guests stay in her spare room because it was the coldest room of the house and she feared for their health.

“I think if someone stays now they might need to open a window,” she said.

Read More: 'It will be her last winter in a cold house' - Elderly woman(83) looks set to get central heating thanks to kind neighbour 

As well as enjoying a warm house, she noticed that without the dirt of an open fire, she doesn’t have to do as much dusting and cleaning.

Patricia was thrilled to have people around the house working on the project, saying they were “a nice bit of company”, especially Mr Keddy “who let me talk the head off him every day”.

“I used to dread the winter coming round and how I was going to manage, but that does not worry me at all now,” she said.

Mr Skelly praised Mr Keddy's tireless efforts in bringing the project to completion, including giving up a week of work to install and fit the gas central heating system free of charges.

“From the start he was a bull in getting things moving in the right direction and acting as a middle man between suppliers.

“During the week-long installation Mick was very aware and sensitive to Patricia’s needs and took plenty of time to explain every step he was going to do. He is a true gent,” said Mr Skelly.

He added that overall, almost 200 people helped by donating their time, money, goods or services.

“Without this huge combined effort we would not have achieved this amazing outcome of lifting the living and health standards for Patricia,” he said.

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