A kind Leighton Buzzard carpet fitter organised a special house makeover after his heart was touched when he met a brave ex-soldier.
Carpet fitters from across Britain rallied to the town last weekend, as they answered the call of local businessman, John Wright, who was determined to do a kind deed for former UK Special Forces soldier, Jamie Hull, and find a team of fellow tradesmen to fit Jamie’s new floors for free.
John, of John Wright Carpets and Flooring, had been touched by the former soldier’s story, as he learned that Jamie had survived 60 per cent third degree burns.
While off duty in 2007, Jamie had been pursuing his ambition of learning to pilot a light aircraft, but during a solo ride the plane caught fire and Jamie had to jump out.
Former Vandyke Upper School pupil, Jamie, 42, said: “I was shopping around for a quote, so John visited and we were sharing back stories - John’s late father was in the military. I didn’t particularly ask for help then John came back with this super-quote!
“For this ‘band of brothers’ to drive their vans down to come and help, that’s overwhelming. The kindness John has shown is extraordinary.”
John, 43, said: “I felt that if I could do something to thank Jamie for what he’s done over the years to help others and serve our country, then I will try as hard as possible. I hope it inspires people to do this kind of thing more often.”
Jamie describes himself as a “driven kind of chap”, backpacking as a young twenty-something, before becoming an officer at Thames Valley Police and then joining the military.
His time in the UK Special Forces took him around the world - from the jungle to the desert - until August 19 2007 would change his life forever.
Jamie said: “I wanted to fly a light aircraft so I went to Florida [not on military duty] to get it done in a short window of time, the weather being better.
“It was going to take just over a month, but during a solo flight I had an engine fire that breached the cockpit at significant altitude and I was burning as I was going down.
“I was thinking ‘I need to get out of here’. It was a traumatic episode and I had to think on my feet and come up with a solution.
“Opening the canopy I clambered out onto the left wing. The cockpit was a blazing inferno!
“We were fifteen feet above the ground and the plane was travelling at 30 knots.
“I jumped because I was on fire - nobody wants to make any decision like that but otherwise I wasn’t going to make it.”
Brave Jamie was given just a five percent chance of survival by doctors, but miraculously he pulled through.
This was the start of a slow recovery process and after flying home from a US intensive care unit, Jamie spent time UK infirmaries and has had 61 operations to date.
He is now receiving free treatment at Harley Street thanks to its special programme for veterans, while over the past ten years he has made strong progress, having climbed mount Kilimanjaro, run the New York Marathon and completed the London Marathon - twice!
Jamie said: “After the accident I was airlifted to hospital. The first few weeks must have been horrendous, but I was out of it as I was in an induced coma for months.
“I was fighting to the hilt with that kind of injury but somehow I mustered the strength to pull through.
“What happens when the medication wears off and the reality hits you? That is really tough.
“As difficult as it sounds you just have to face the music and cope.”
Determined Jamie has now “gone back to his roots” and helps lead expeditions for young people, such as the World Challenge adventures.
He also supports the armed forces charity SSAFA, and works with other soldiers as an ambassador for Help for Heroes, including teaching disabled veterans to scuba dive.
He said: “The journey keeps going and you become the best of yourself again. If one individual is motivated and still hungry for life, they will get on, you just have to carry on believing in yourself - what you can still be capable of - and henceforth achieve.”
But the story wouldn’t be complete without Jamie’s very own heroes from across Britain.
It was the ex-soldier’s story and passion for life that inspired not just one - but over ten tradesmen to visit his house on Saturday (February 3), something that wouldn’t be possible without LBO land’s selfless Leighton Buzzard carpet fitter.
John said: “My first port of call for help was the fitters I met in the UK Carpet Fitter of The Year Final 2017.
“We have since became great friends, while I also put a post on TalkFloors [ a floor layers’ Facebook group]. The reaction was amazing!
“Within minutes of posting Jamie’s story, I was inundated with people offering their time for free.
“Jamie was very humbled and in disbelief; it took a few further conversations before it sunk in.”
The troops drove down from the four corners of Britain, some bunking down in the Swan Hotel on Friday night.
Armed with their tools, the kind tradesmen fitted Jamie’s lounge, hall, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom in Luxury Vinyl Tiles, while Jamie says he was on tea duty for the day, and made a quick dash to Waitrose for sandwiches, as carpet fitters march on their stomachs!
John said: “I would like to say thank you all the fitters, as well as Hanson Plywood Ltd who very kindly donated the plywood with the help of Steve Ramsden of the NICF (National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers).
“This also had to be nailed down, So Steve Rasal of carpetfittershoponline.co.uk donated a box of coil nails and Ardex UK kindly donated the feather finish and the buckets.”
John has been a floor layer for 26 years, moving from London to Leighton Buzzard 16 years ago.
He runs John Wright Carpets and Flooring with his partner, Tracey Cutts, 41, saying “ I thrive on being the best I can be.”
The tradesman has plans to enter ‘UK Carpet Fitter of the Year 2018’ (UKCFY) - in which he was a finalist last year - and he is also Bedfordshire’s only Carpet Master Fitter with the National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers.
John and Jamie would like to thank all the tradesmen who gave their time and help, many of whom also saw UKCFY success:
Byron Terrett, Winner, Wales
Dan Evans, Finalist, Cambridgeshire
Darren Ash, Finalist, Worcester
Wayne Appleby, Fitter, Wales
Martin Roberts, Fitter, Cheshire
Scott Harvey, Fitter, Milton Keynes
Richie Lauvert, Fitter, Newcastle
David Merrilees, Fitter, Lancashire
Tony Newell, Fitter, Glasgow
Dean White and his lad, Frank, Ramsgate
Brian King, Master Fitter and Contract Flooring Journal Reporter; he came down from Wigan to do an article for the Flooring Journal, placing interviews with John, Byron and Dan on his new YouTube channel, UK Flooring TV.