Remembering Keith Ellick

Remembering Keith Ellick

A father of five whose cancer diagnosis sparked a real-life DIY SOS by workmen from across the country has been laid to rest.

Former serviceman Keith Ellick lost his battle with cancer almost a year after his boss Addam Smith enlisted the help of tradesmen from across the country to renovate his home.

The heartwarming gesture hit the headlines after Addam launched a fundraising effort to buy the council-owned home to give Keith, who died on March 27 aged 42, and his family some much-needed security.

A year on, with support from across the world, the group has become known as the ‘Band of Builders’ and is set to be formed into a charity.

Tradesmen who carried out the original renovation were among the coffin-bearers at Mr Ellick’s funeral in his home town of Lincoln last week, while hundreds of others looked on.

Crowds of workmen from across the country lined the route into Lincoln Crematorium, wearing Band of Builders clothing and their day-to-day work gear, while others donned blue – the colour of Mr Ellick’s favourite football team, Everton.

The funeral party was met by a Guard of Honour formed by the members of the RAF Regiment, Mr Ellick’s former unit, before the father-of-five’s coffin was carried into Lincoln Crematorium by six members of the Band of Builders to Everton FC’s adopted victory march, the theme tune from TV drama series Z Cars.

The ceremony took place simultaneously with services in the south Atlantic islands of Ascension Island and St Helena, where Mr Ellick was born and his family still live.

A tribute from his family in St Helena described how the 42-year-old, who had two brothers, grew up in Jamestown, where he worked at the Government garage as an apprentice and went on to become a builder and a nursing assistant at the General Hospital.

Passionate about football from a young age, the Everton fan went on to start his own football team, Wolves, in the local league, enlisting his friends, neighbours and family. The team was resurrected by his cousin after his cancer diagnosis.

Mr Ellick left the island in 1999 to enlist into the Royal Air Force and went on to serve in Oman, Germany, The Falkland Islands and RAF Waddington in Lincoln, where he left the RAF and settled in the UK, going on to work in security, landscaping and construction.

After The Hollies hit ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ – chosen by Mr Ellick’s brothers Terry and Jeffrey – a tribute to the father of five and grandfather of two by his mother and father-in-law Chris and Bill described him as someone who “worked really hard in everything he did”.

Their tribute described how Mr Ellick took the chance to travel to London for clinical trials, saying that even though he thought there was no chance for him, if it could help someone else then it had to all be worthwhile.

A tribute from Mr Ellick’s wife Sasha, read to the funeral gathering, described how the couple’s world had fallen apart after his diagnosis last year. “We knew you couldn’t stay but you still fought until the end with determination,” she said.

“Keith was more than my husband, he was my best friend – he worried and cared too much sometimes but I loved him for that. There will always be an empty space as part of me has gone with you.”

The statement described how the family had been “overwhelmed” with support, especially from Keith’s boss Addam Smith and his ‘Band of Builders’, as well as charity Team Verrico – which funded Mr Ellick’s visits to London for clinical trials.

The service closed with a montage of photos from Mr Ellick’s life played to ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons, as Mr Ellick’s children and family members laid roses on his coffin in tribute to him before leaving the crematorium to ‘Forever Everton’.

Addam Smith, who plans to form Band of Builders into a charity that will help tradesmen like Mr Ellick in the future, said: “Today was a heartbreaking day for anyone who knew Keith and the kind, hardworking, family man he was. But it was also a celebration of his life and a reminder that Keith’s legacy will live on and go on to help other people like him.

“Band of Builders has proved how ordinary tradesmen can come together to help their own and inspire others to do the same and we plan to carry on the work we’ve started to help other people in Keith’s position.”

Tributes have poured in for Mr Ellick, including from Nick Knowles, who said: “What Addam and volunteers have done for Keith has been immense. To secure his family’s future took so much strain and worry off his shoulders.”

Addam Smith and his Band of Builders are still fundraising to buy Mr Ellick’s house. To donate to the fund, visit

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