A SOUTH Lakeland mother-of-three has thanked the selfless individuals and local businesses who have helped her move back into her home nearly two years after it was destroyed by floods.

Like scores of others during December 2015’s Storm Desmond, Maureen Gage was forced out of her Mintsfeet home in Kendal after floods destroyed properties, possessions and lives.

A change in circumstances just two months before the storm meant her house was uninsured for the first time since she bought it in 1982.

Once Storm Desmond had wreaked its havoc, she and her youngest son Anthony, then 21, did not have the means to repair the deluged property and were forced out.

Now, almost two years on, she is due to return home thanks to the help of kind-hearted volunteers and local business people, many of whom were flooded themselves, who donated time and equipment to restore, reinforce and improve her home.

“It means absolutely everything to me,” said Maureen 63, who works at Beales Department Store in Kendal. “People appreciated my situation and were willing to help out. It’s the generosity of people that I’m grateful for.”

To help Maureen and her family back on their feet, a host of Kendal businesses gifted her items. Travis Perkins provided a bathroom suite; Howdens gave doors and castings; carpets and lino were given by Westmorland Flooring; Lakes Energy Centre donated a fire and marble fireplace; AJM gifted paints; Alexander and Sancto provided tiles; Webbs gave her a new kitchen suite and cooker; and Madlock gave electrical wiring and sockets.

Mark Hine, of Morecambe, also tiled her bathroom, while Maureen’s neighbour, Mark Pentz, provided other materials. Dan Metcalf and MB Stavert were also thanked for carrying out plumbing and electrical work.

“It’s very hard to express my gratitude, ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem big enough,” said Maureen. “But that’s what it is, a huge thanks to all those business and people who had been in a similar situation but were still able to be so generous.”

At the centre of the efforts to return Maureen home was her friend Paul Robinson, a painter and decorator from Burneside. After seeing her situation failing to improve after more than a year out of her home, he took it upon himself to organise resilience grants and co-ordinate repair works.

He has spent more than £25,000 of his own money to get the work done, and reached out to the local companies who came forward with their donations.

“Paul is the main reason I’m going home,” added Maureen. “Without Paul I would have nothing. I had languished around for a year before he stepped in, he’s the main person.”

Mr Robinson, whose wife Jennifer works at Beales with Maureen, said he could not sit back and watch his friend continue to struggle.

In March of this year, he said, the house was still in dire straits.

“I decided something had to be done to get her back home,” he said. “She’s a single mum who had brought up three kids and the house was in a state. It needed a lot of work doing to it.”

Flood grants allowed work to be funded on the ground floor to carry out resilience measures, but Mr Robinson said the property needed much more work to it than that.

Now, with the help of his brother Phil and the support of local businesses, the entire property has been re-done from top to bottom and converted from a two-bedroom house to a three-bedroom one.

Mr Robinson said it had shocked him how much other people had rushed to support the project.

“People and companies that were flooded themselves wanted to help and assist,” he said. “They’ve done it out of the kindness of their hearts.

“Lots of people asked how they could help or offered to fundraise and it’s just amazing.

“It’s good to know I’ve done something nice to help her but she’s my friend, these others didn’t know her from Adam. They had been flooded themselves and still wanted to contribute and I think that’s amazing.”

Stu Parkin is a co-director of Westmorland Flooring along with Peter Gorst, and he said it was no surprise Kendalians had come together to help.

“We’re very lucky to live in Kendal,” he said. “We’re a good sized town but it feels like everyone is quite close.

“There’s a sense of community around Kendal and the floods only brought everyone closer because people had that shared experience – albeit a terrible one.”

Nathan Wilson, owner of Lakes Energy Centre, added: “She seemed to have a hard time, she’s been victim of a few different circumstances and it was just a nice thing to do.

“We’re quite a nice bunch of people in Kendal when it comes to it.”