AN ARMY of generous tradesmen and women have joined forces to help the family of a plumber and central heating engineer who died just days before Christmas.

John Stewart, from Haddington, was one of more than 50 tradespeople from across the country who put their own work on hold to finish the project at Steve Dunphy’s home.

Steve was just 59 when he passed away on December 20 last year, leaving behind his wife Elaine and four sons, Callum, Lucas, Ethan and Fife.

The family had purchased two adjoining properties in Lennoxtown, between Glasgow and Cumbernauld, with a view of turning it into a forever home.

Unfortunately, Steve, who worked as a plumbing and central heating engineer, was never able to get the scheme finished.

That was where Band of Builders, including John, stepped in.

More than 50 builders, plumbers, carpenters, plasterers, electricians and more worked for eight-and-a-half days to transform the two properties before handing over the keys to Elaine.

John, who runs John Stewart Carpentry and Joinery, described the project as “a really, humbling experience with massive highs”.

He said: “It was brilliant but very, very emotional seeing someone who has been living in a house who has had the most horrendous luck.

“Her son Fife was diagnosed with leukaemia and within a month of him being diagnosed Steve’s mum died.

“Then his sister died and one of the other sons was diagnosed with autism.

“Elaine’s husband, Steve, was diagnosed with cancer and I think it was only last year he died but because he started working on the house it was a building site and had been for a number of years.

“There were ceilings not in place, carpets were not down, the heating system was not working.

“Once we [had finished] and stood outside and saw Elaine’s face when she walked in, it was great.”

Tradespeople sourced their own materials and donated their own time to the scheme, which otherwise, it is estimated, would have cost more than £60,000.

Work at the property included joinery, sheeting, plastering, flooring, carpeting, bricklaying, kitchen fitting, tiling, electrics and decoration.

John, 36, of Seggarsdean Park, was among those venturing west and staying at a holiday village nearly 20 miles from the worksite. That meant leaving behind wife Toni and four-year-old daughter Helena for the duration of the works.

It also meant mucking in to help with whatever was required during 12-hour shifts, with work starting at 8am and continuing throughout the day.

He said: “My trade is carpentry and joinery and ideally we were assigned one room to be working on.

“But, as the project went on, some trades were more involved with work than others.

“You ended up with labourers giving painters a hand and electricians giving plasterers a hand.”

Band of Builders, which officially became a charity earlier this year, was formed in 2016 after landscaper Addam Smith asked for help to renovate the garden of his friend and employee Keith Ellick, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Keith lost his battle with cancer in 2017 but Band of Builders continued with the aim of helping other members of the UK construction industry battling illness or injury.

Richard Patchesa, trustee at Band of Builders, was among the volunteers on the project.

He said: “It’s been an absolute honour to help Elaine and her family and finish the work that Steve started but could sadly never finish.

“The support for this project has been unprecedented, from materials donated by big companies across the UK to gestures from the local community like feeding the volunteers, tooting car horns and stopping for a chat.

“Every time we do this we’re blown away by the reaction it creates and it spurs us on to do more to help more people like Elaine and her family.”