Hero plumber who went viral forced to stop helping those in need

James Anderson, founder of Depher Community Interest Company, oversees the installation of a boiler at the home of Keith and Ann Hartley, in Burnley, Britain, November 12, 2022 in this still image taken from video. REUTERS/Natalie Thomas
James Anderson overseeing the installation of a free boiler. (Getty)

A plumber who has become famous for repairing and replacing broken boilers free of charge for those in need has said he may be forced to stop helping after donations fell by 80%.

James Anderson set up Depher in Burnley, Lancashire, in 2017 to provide free plumbing and heating support to those who need it.

Since then he claims to have helped more than a million people with 13 people employed locally and more than 60 subcontractors across the country.

Read more: Cost of living: Pensioner, 87, who died from hypothermia 'couldn't afford heating'

James Anderson claims to have helped more than a million people. (PA)
James Anderson claims to have helped more than a million people. (PA)

The support he provides has also expanded and he now provides food and other emergency help to those who need it.

But this week Anderson launched an emergency appeal on gofundme saying the cost of living crisis had hit his business and donations had fallen by 80% in six months.

In his appeal, he said: "Due to our lack of funding currently, we can’t accept new recipients for our food and shopping deliveries or gas and electric support.

Read more: The prepayment meter 'scandal' leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark

"We want to continue to support those who need us most. If you are able to give as little as £5 it will help us help the most vulnerable in society keep their lights and heating on or stock their fridge."

On Thursday Anderson said they had received a private donation of £10,000 alongside the more than £15,000 raised on gofundme.

He also shared an example of the work he does after replacing a shower that was "beyond repair" for an elderly man for free.

He also shared a story of an 89-year-old lady who had not had heating or hot water for five years, instead relying on an oil heater.

Depher engineers measured up a new boiler and radiators to be fitted in the future for free.

Anderson started Depher after his son died at just 16 weeks old.

He said the experience had made him promise he would "be a better man".