An east Lancashire plumber who started a charity to help the elderly and vulnerable – which has been championed by Hugh Grant – has been named the winner of the 2022 SGS Engineering Local Hero Award.
Earlier this year, UK residents were asked to nominate ‘hero’ artisans in their area who have gone above and beyond to help their community with their generosity.
A multitude of nominations for selfless tradespeople poured in from across the country, and SGS Engineering experts then shortlisted seven finalists for a public vote.
It has now been revealed that Burnley’s James Anderson of Depher received 70% of the vote and will receive a well-deserved cash prize of £1,000.
Three regional finalists with their own wonderful stories will also each receive a cash prize of £250.
James is considered a ‘kind-hearted plumber’, devoting his personal and professional time to the creation of Depher, a free service designed to help elderly and vulnerable people struggling during the cost of living crisis.
He even caught the eye of Hollywood star Hugh Grant, who donated £10,000 to help the local hero Burnley’s cause.
In 2021, Depher and James received a Points of Light award from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Visitors to the Depher Facebook group frequently see examples of James’ generosity, including free boiler repairs and installations for those in need, free emergency plumbing assistance for the elderly and vulnerable, and even shopping for the homeless.
Speaking after receiving the award, James said: “Thank you so much for nominating me and Depher for this fantastic award, it’s overwhelming and humbling.
“From a business perspective, the people we help may not be family, we may not be blood, but we will continue to treat them like family, and we will always be here.
“As long as we have the power to provide our services, you will never be alone and you will never be in the dark.
“It’s for the people we provide, the people we support, and awards like this give us more power to help them.”
Typical of his generosity, James said “a lot of families” would benefit from the £1,000 cash prize.
Dave Gordon, Managing Director of SGS Engineering, added: “Congratulations to James and the three regional finalists for their fantastic work and well-deserved awards.
“Choosing to go out of your way to be kind and generous should be applauded by people across the country.
“Last year we created the Local Hero Awards to recognize the tremendous work done by caring plumbers, builders, electricians, carpenters, gardeners and mechanics who often go unnoticed when they perform generous acts that help people in their community.
“We again thank the tradespeople who were nominated for their excellent work, and congratulations again to James, the finalists and the other finalists who deserve their recognition.”