Please read the stories of each person or family nominated. I have decided to keep them all annonymous to give everyone the best chance of winning. Please choose just ONE ‘Option’ to vote for as the winner. Go to www.mybighandyman.weebly.com/vote
Finalist ONE - “Parents Of Severely Disabled Children”
This couple have two severely disabled, wheelchair-bound sons with life limiting conditions, and very complex needs, one who is only receiving palliative care. The parents therefor have extremely busy days and nights, and get very tired and worn out. Decorating and DIY jobs rarely get finished due to the pair being full time carers. People nominating this family said they are amazing, caring and selfless, spending every spare minute creating lovely memories for their children. They really deserve a break.
Finalist TWO - “Elderly Parents”
A daughter has nominated her elderly parents, who are struggling to keep on top of things. Here is what she told us : “I would like to nominate may parents. They live in a small 2 bedroom bungalow in Shepton Mallet. They have a low income and are both disabled. My mum suffers from Fibromyalgia and is also registered partially blind and is rapidly losing her sight to Macular Degeneration. My Dad has been disabled since my childhood when a fall at work resulted in a cyst inside his spinal cord starting to grow. Recently his mobility has deteriorated and he has just been provided with a new electric wheelchair. The new wheelchair has made things much easier for him but in such a small property it has made things a bit tight on space. With neither being able to work for so long they have a very limited income too. I wish I was in a position to help my parents more. They are the most wonderful people and deserve so much more than they have. I know they would dearly love a bit of a spruce up in the property and a bit of help rejigging things to make it easier for Dad to get around in the chair as well as mum with her limited vision. I would be so grateful for you considering them for this project but understand you will surely have many deserving nominations.
Finalist THREE - “ Worsening Illness”
This hardworking couple took on a project home in November, moving from Reading to their beloved Somerset in the lovely village of Prestleigh. Unfortunately, soon after the move, the wife’s Ankylosing Spondilitis got much worse, and she’s not been able to work since March. She is an American, and part of her visa terms means she can have no recourse to public funds, even though she has been paying tax for the 6 years she’s been here.Her husband is building his own business and is a wonderful father and great man. He is working so hard to get the business running and caring for his wife, but can no longer do the DIY things he once could, and he has no time with working hard to get his business going. Having someone come in and do a few bits would be a great help.
Finalist FOUR - “Caring Grandmother”
This 61 year old woman was nominated by a friend- here’s what she told us : “She is an amazing and wonderful friend, so caring, honest, one her own, dotes on her four Grandchildren. She is a very independent lady but a little help on her large garden and possibly a few jobs inside would be greatly appreciated. She works as a Support Worker for the NHS, always caring for others. Its about time she had a little caring done for her. “
Finalist FIVE - “Single mother caring for daughter with Heart defect”
This local lady is a singe mother to an amazing five year old daughter. The brave little girl was born with a rare heart condition called Truncus Arteriosus. She underwent open heart surgery at 10 weeks old. Since then, mother and daughter have inspired an amazing £31,500 (£1,000 for Bristol Children's hospital and the rest for British Heart Foundation) to be raised for charity . This popular finalist is always busy fundraising, and taking care of her wonderful daughter. Sadly she was ripped off recently by a cowboy tradesman, and so struggled to try and complete the necessary painting , decorating and tiling all by herself, rather than be ripped off again. If she won, My Big Handyman could help finish the jobs, and restore her faith in people!
PRESS RELEASE I wrote for my husband's community project !
Local Handyman offers FREE Painting, Decorating and Gardening in a new community scheme
A small business in Shepton Mallet is hoping to make a huge impact on the local community, by launching a new initiative to help a deserving local family.
Wayne Banks, who's garden and property maintenance company My Big Handyman, only started up last October- wants to give something back to the community who have supported him.
He wants to encourage others to 'pay it forward' and do the same – with his project #PaintItForward. Inspired by shows like DIYSOS and Extreme Home Makeover, the idea first took off in the USA. People nominate a deserving family or person, who has suffered some kind of hardship, and could do with a house and garden freshen -up.
Perhaps a full time carer with no energy for annoying DIY, or a busy single mum with no time or extra cash to paint the spare bedrooms. A family who have had to deal with illness or disability, or an elderly person who hasn't been able to keep on top of household repairs. Once the nominations are in, three will be chosen and then the public will vote for an overall winner.
Then Wayne, with the help of volunteers will go in and do the job absolutely free of charge. The Wells branch of CRS building supplies have kindly offered to supply some materials, and local company “Maid In Somerset” have offered to do a full clean up after the work is complete.
The Paint It Forward scheme could see one lucky family have rooms , windows and doors painted, repairs and DIY jobs completed, shelves and cupboards put up, carpets or flooring laid. All types of garden jobs could be included , from mowing, strimming, hedge cutting and rubbish clearance. It all depends on who wins, and what they need doing
Wayne's wife Heather Banks, explains why the project is close to their hearts.
“Wayne is an army veteran, when he left the Royal Signals over a decade ago – he suffered with bad PTSD, and struggled to settle into civilian life.
We actually moved to Swedish Lapland, where Wayne took up dog sledding in order to find a new focus in life. He loved it, but in 2014, after environmental factors caused our winter tourism business to fail – we made the difficult decision to return to the UK. This time we also had two young children in tow.
After a traumatic four day journey with just a trailer full of belongings, we landed back in England- and were shocked to find we'd failed the 'Home Residency' test, and would receive no financial help from the welfare state at all.
For the next 2 years, we struggled a lot. They were dark times. We had to rely on food parcels, and charity. Some kind people even donated us kids clothes and toys, which meant a great deal.
Wayne found work, but was injured then caught Pneumonia. His PTSD and depression returned, along with a horrific cycle of debilitating cluster headaches. At the same time, I left work in order to home school and care for my eldest son, who had just been diagnosed with Autism. Some days I don't know how we coped.”
Finally, setting up as a sole trader last year, allowed Wayne to use his wide variety of skills, and get out and about, now he's a different person. He became involved with the local British Legion and is training to become a scout leader.
“The business has gone from strength to strength, and now we really want to help others who may be having a rough time.”
Wayne says “ Our family have been through some really challenging times, financially and emotionally. I also lost my mum earlier this year. Starting my own business was the best thing I've ever done, apart from dog sledding of course! It can really make a difference when someone offers to help. People helped us when we needed it, now I want to help others”.
The couple hope that this project will only be the start, and that others will be inspired to do something similar.
If you'd like to nominate a deserving person or family to win this wonderful giveaway. Complete the online Nomination form at www.mybighandyman.weebly.com or message the Facebook page www.facebook.com/mybighandyman paper forms will also be available from My Coffee Stop and The Fairy Godmother shop on Shepton Mallet High Street.
Get out there on Thursday and VOTE !
If it's your first time however, you may be confused when you can't actually tick a box which says Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem or Greens to win nationally.
In actual fact you are voting for a member of parliament to represent your geographical area, so in Wells – the main candidates who have a chance of winning are James Heapey, Conservative and Tessa Munt, Lib Dems.
Now, this is a bit frustrating, if like me , you want Jeremy Corbyn, to be the next prime minister- and finally have a Labour government in charge of this broken country. Don't worry though. The idea of 'tactical voting' and 'vote swaps' means you can still oust the Tories, even in areas like this.
I will vote for Tessa Munt – even though I am a 'Labour supporter' at a national level. She , apart from being a good MP, and having some good local policies, is actually quite likely to beat Mr. Heapey. This means, at a national level, the Tories may lose a seat – and be less likely to win the main general election .
On the internet, it is even possible to sign up to a vote swaping scheme , whereby someone else pledges to vote for your prefered party in an area where they are likely to win. Go to www.swapmyvote.uk before you head to the polls today!
On Sunday, my friend and I had a really fun night out at the 'Fire Fighters Charity' prize bingo event, held at The Club in Shepton Mallet. I even got a full house on the last ticket, with the winning prize of an 8” tablet – only to discover another lady shouting 'bingo' at the exact same time. Typical ! The showdown came to a climactic conclusion, with us both drawing a playing card from a deck – highest to win. I drew a jack, she drew a king – I was given a chocoalte bar by way on consolation. I wasn't bitter, much.
The night, organized by Matty Nixon, and the firefighters of Shepton Mallet raised £1,260 in total. Matty, and the lads are also doing a huge '3 peaks challenge ' . They will attempt to climb Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in just 24 hours . To sponsor them go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthewnix88
I'm proud that my husband Wayne aka My Big Handyman, has also launched a new community initiative called 'Paint It Forward'. Inspired by shows like DIY SOS , he will be giving away a home & garden make-over worth £500 to a local family in need of a break.Anyone can nominate a family of person, who they feel deserves this amazing prize- and then the public will vote for a winner. It could be anyone , its up to you! Nominate using the form at www.mybighandyman.weebly.com
I'm a 43 year old, mum of two little boys- currently living in Shepton Mallet in Somerset. I'm the Founder and Creative Director of Radio Shepton, a Stand up and comedian and spoken word performer, and write a regular column for The Wells and Shepton Mallet Journal. Which is the basis for my blog usually. I lived in Swedish Lapland for 7 years until 2014 where my boys were born. My partner and I ran a husky dog sledding business. Before that I was a poet, radio presenter, media lecturer, writer, TV producer, actress and burlesque performer ! I never want my life to be boring :)