Builders unveil new extension to help Hemel boy living with rare condition

The family of an 11-year-old boy suffering with a rare condition have hailed the 'amazing' efforts of a builder's charity

Volunteers from Band of Builders braved Storm Dennis to complete the extension and wheelchair ramp at James Dodd's home in Hemel Hempstead.

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

James suffers from rare Mitochondrial Disease, which has left him confined to a wheelchair, unable to hold a pencil at school and struggling to speak, he also finds it difficult to eat and swallow.

While James still attends mainstream school, the fact he struggles to walk makes some things difficult - including getting in and out of the family home because the entrance was previously too uneven for his wheelchair or walking frame.

Mitochondrial disease, or 'mito', is a group of medical disorders caused by mutations in mitochondria. Cells cannot function properly without healthy mitochondria, so when they fail the consequences can be serious. Mitochondrial diseases affect people in multiple ways, and James’ family have been told that his is a life limiting condition for which there is no treatment and no cure.

After hearing about the family’s situation Band of Builders, a national charity that helps tradespeople and their families, stepped in to create a ramp at the front of their home as well as a porch extension to allow James to get in and out more easily.

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

The group, who travelled from across the country to complete the project, unveiled the new extension to James’ family on Saturday, February 22.

Angela said: "What an amazing group of people! What an incredible charity. From the beginning to the end of this project to extend the front of our home to provide a porch to accommodate James’s powerchair and other large items of necessary equipment and to have disabled access, we have met people who have given up time away from their place of work and their families to help our family.

"To see James get himself out of the house and out on to the newly ramped drive yesterday was just wonderful - such a simple thing for most of us but a new experience for him and one that will give him independence and a sense of achievement.

"We can’t thank everyone involved enough - you’ve made such a difference to the life of a very special boy.”

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

Band of Buildersunveiled the new extension to James and his family on Saturday. Photo byTim Winch Photography/Band of Builders

Band of Builders is a national charity that helps members of the UK construction trade and their families through practical projects.

During the course of the project, 15 volunteers from the charity worked a total of 606 man-hours at the Dodds’ home, giving up their time for free and using materials donated by various companies in the construction sector.

The project was sponsored by Tarmac Blue Circle and Selco Builders Warehouse also provided breakfast for the volunteers each morning, while members of the community delivered cakes, chocolate and food throughout the week to keep the team going.

Dave Fixter, project lead on James’ Project, said: “This project hasn’t been without its challenges, from the discovery of a large drainage pipe when we were digging the footings which delayed it from January until now, then Storm Dennis making it harder but each and every volunteer went above and beyond to make sure we could get the project finished for James’ family.

“To see his face and his parents on Saturday is something you really can’t describe and is why we all do what we do. We’re just glad to have been able to do something to help.”