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Kind hearted plumber defies thieves to carry on his pioneering work

Plumber James Anderson, with his wife Barbara, has vowed to continue helping people who need him, despite recent setbacks.
Plumber James Anderson, with his wife Barbara, has vowed to continue helping people who need him, despite recent setbacks.
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A plumber, whose van was broken into while he visited his mother in hospital, has vowed that thieves will not stop him from doing the job he loves and helping those who need it.

James Anderson was devastated to discover two boxes of tools, including drills, had been taken from the van outside his home in the Coal Clough area of Burnley.

James and Barbara's son, William, who died five years ago aged just 16 weeks.

James and Barbara's son, William, who died five years ago aged just 16 weeks.

He had just completed the 112 mile round trip to Liverpool to visit his mum in hospital.

James said: "Luckily my neighbour has CCTV so whoever did this was caught on camera and the matter is now in the hands of the police.

"I knew as soon as I went to my van it had been broken into as the door was slightly open."

What makes the theft of James' van particularly heartbreaking is the fact he carries out a lot of work for the elderly and vulnerable for free under a scheme he launched himself called DEPHER.

And despite the theft he turned out at 9pm to answer an SOS call from a woman with two disabled children who had a blocked drain in the back yard of her home.

James (50), whose company is called Northern Plumbing and Heating, said: "I went to the house and sorted the problem for the lady because that is what I do and what I will continue to do."

The day after the break-in was another heartbreaking time for James and his wife Barbara as it marked the fifth anniversary of the death of their baby son, William, who died when he was just 16 weeks old.

Born with a raft of medical problems, William was treated in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

And while the couple took time out to celebrate their son's life James received an anonymous call from someone threatening to harm him.

James said: "A guy called saying that I was advertising on his website and he knew my name and where I lived and he was coming to beat me up.

"I have no idea what he was talking about or who he was and that matter has also been reported to the police."

James believes the culprit may be someone wanting to scupper his scheme as it aims to prevent unscrupulous tradesmen from taking advantage of the elderly, disabled and vulnerable by overcharging them.

He added: "It has been a particularly distressing and hard week for me and my family but we are carrying on with a smile as there are people depending on us.

"My mum is now home from hospital and we have to look forward to the future and not look back and dwell on the past.

"I will carry on helping people, the elderly, vulnerable and disabled because to see the smile on someone's face knowing that you have helped to make their home safe and warm is worth everything."

James has applied for funding and trustees to get on board with Depher, which stands for Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating, and he wants to get as many tradesman as possible on board across the UK.

At the moment he helps people across Lancashire.

He added: "The initiative can and will save lives and show the vulnerable there are people in the community who care about them and their safety.

"This will bring us together again as the caring and strong country that we are known to be worldwide."