A dad-of-two suffering with an incurable form of brain cancer is set to receive help from the same charity he volunteered for just a few years ago after receiving his diagnosis.
Band of Builders (BoB) volunteer tradespeople from across the UK will descend on Hereford to complete work at the home of Kyle O’Connor, who volunteered himself on a similar project in his home town in 2019.
Kyle, partner Rachel, stepson Harry (17) and daughter Lottie (10) have been living with an unfinished extension and loft conversion since the 41-year-old construction teacher at a local academy suffered a seizure in December 2020, leading to the diagnosis of an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer.
He has since undergone surgery, radiotherapy and is currently receiving a 12-month programme of chemotherapy, meaning the tradesman and former Royal Engineer cannot complete the work himself.
Instead, a team of volunteers from BoB – a registered charity that completes practical projects to help members of the UK construction industry who are battling illness or injury – are set to rally round and complete the ground-floor renovations to the family’s dormer bungalow in Kingsthorne.
Up to 15 volunteer tradespeople – including carpenters, tilers, bathroom fitters and general labourers – will see the completion of the ground-floor extension and an en-suite bathroom and dressing room off Kyle and Rachel’s bedroom, as well as work to make the ground-floor living space conducive to Kyle’s rehabilitation.
Kyle – who is a multi-skilled tradesperson and a qualified surveyor, plasterer, decorator and tiler, as well as a secondary school teacher – said how frustrated he is at not being able to complete work on his home himself and how grateful he and his family are that the BoB community will complete the renovations he started.
“Work on the renovation of my home was coming along nicely when, a few days after my 40th birthday, I had a grand mal seizure. Within a couple of months, I was diagnosed with a grade 3 brain tumour, which required immediate surgery,” he said.
“During surgery, I also had a stroke and then went through radiotherapy treatment, and now I’m seven months in to a year-long course of chemotherapy. And all the time I’m at home, all I can see is work that needs to be completed to give my family the home they deserve – that’s why I’m so grateful that Band of Builders is supporting my family.”
Kyle knows all too well about how the charity rallies round to support members of the construction community after volunteering on another BoB project in 2019 to build a cabin for a 15-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis, so that Kyle Sissons could be home-schooled and spend time with friends without risking his health.
Now he finds himself in the same position, with the BoB team set to descend on his own home between 9th and 17th April to carry out the work using materials donated by the construction sector.
The project is already gaining a lot of support and good wishes from Kyle’s former military regiment.
Project lead Jake Anderson – a veteran of half a dozen BoB projects and also four for BBC TV’s DIY SOS – said that the aim is to complete the work as quickly as possible to aid Kyle’s rehabilitation in the final months of his chemotherapy.
“As a time-served carpenter, I know all too well that Kyle will be looking around his home and all he can see are the jobs that need doing – so our team will help put his and his family’s minds at rest, not only that we’ll complete his project but also that it will be up to his standards,” said Jake.
This will be the 24th project to date for BoB, which has more than 10,000 supporters from across the construction industry.
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