Pensioners’ champion recounts hellish six months after his Chadwell Heath home flooded

A 92-year-old from Chadwell Heath who received an MBE for helping pensioners in Redbridge, has endured a hellish six months after his home was flooded.

Chris Wilson, of Havering Gardens, has spent much of his life helping others, whether as a Second World War soldier, as a magistrate, or – for 21 years – as chairman of the Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum.

But he had to rely on the kindness of others after bad weather in February burst a water pipe in his house, where he lives alone, wrecking a bedroom, his lounge and his conservatory.

He said: “The ceiling was hanging down in the front room.

“I was running around with buckets of water.”

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Mr Wilson had to leave his house, where he has lived for 30 years, immediately.

He went to live with his daughter in Wickford, Essex, but he felt guilty because she had to sleep on a sofa for a week despite being in her 70s.

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Through Redbridge Council, he was provided with emergency accommodation in Fernways in Cecil Road, Ilford, and though he is grateful for the help and says the staff were excellent, he didn’t enjoy the experience.

He said: “There was nothing for me to do.

“I had to spend all day in the lounge. It was the longest week of my life.”

He spent a further six weeks with his other daughter in Tyne and Wear before being told he could return home about 10 weeks after the flood.

His front room had been renovated but the conservatory had to be pulled down and has now been rebuilt.

Neighbours and the Eastern Avenue Baptist Church in Chadwell Heath provided help, including with repairs.

He said: “At my age I don’t think anyone should experience it, but maybe I’m the lucky one.

“I’ve found people really helpful.”

Unfortunately, Mr Wilson believes the spell away from home has caused him mobility problems, exacerbated by a Second World War injury.

He said: “My mobility was limited and the muscle was getting weaker and weaker.”

He hopes the finishing touches to his house will be done by Christmas.

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