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‘Angel’ plumber sends elderly woman with cancer a bill for $0

U.K. plumber James Anderson offers heavily discounted or free plumbing services to the elderly.
U.K. plumber James Anderson offers heavily discounted or free plumbing services to the elderly. James Anderson/Facebook

A generous plumber in the United Kingdom is winning international praise for helping out a 91-year-old woman dying of cancer.

Plumber James Anderson fixed the elderly woman’s boiler and promised to send the bill to her daughter, Christine Rowlands, by email the next day.

Rowlands said she was shocked by the number listed at the bottom of the invoice: zero.

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“Lady is 91 years of age. Acute leukemia. End of life care,” the invoice read. “No charges for this lady under any circumstances. We will be available 24 hour[s] to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible.”

Rowlands shared a photo of the invoice in a touching Facebook post earlier this month.

“How kind is this?” she wrote in the post. “An Angel dressed as a plumber.”

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Rowlands says the man helped solve some “big drama” for the family by addressing the boiler.

Anderson runs a company called DEPHER, a not-for-profit that provides home maintenance services to elderly people in Burnley and Lancashire, U.K. The acronym is short for Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Repairs.

“James Anderson works on a volunteer basis and takes no wages at all,” his company’s site says. The site features photos of many happy customers holding up invoices for Anderson’s free plumbing work.

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Anderson told CNN that he set up his company after witnessing an engineer who appeared to take advantage of an elderly person in a bind.

“We need to do something more to help the people who need it most,” he told CNN on Tuesday.

He estimates he’s helped more than 2,300 people since he started his business in 2017.

“A lot of elderly and disabled people don’t like asking for assistance, and if they can’t afford something like fixing the boiler, they might not do it and get in trouble,” he said. “We are there to take that worry away.”

Rowlands told CNN that it was “overwhelming” to witness Anderson’s generosity firsthand.

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“James is an absolute star,” she said.

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Hundreds of people have donated to Anderson’s crowdfunding operation since Rowlands’ post went viral on Sept. 9. Many more people have praised him for his generosity.

“Your story restored my faith in mankind. Carry on the good work,” Derek Huggett wrote on Anderson’s crowdfunding page.

“I wish I could give you a hug for being so amazing,” wrote Clare, a donor who contributed £100 to his cause. “What a wonderful business you have established, helping the elderly and vulnerable. I hope this helps you carry on your work.”

Working for free is not exactly a sustainable business model, but Anderson says he makes ends meet through crowdfunding and charitable grants.

“As long as I have enough money to fill up the tank in my car, I will be there to try and help people who need it,” he said.

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