85-year-old Horsham woman left frozen in her own home

JPCT 050115 S15010297x Vera McAllister, 85, with neighbour Chris Walker, Horsham. Saxon Weald boiler problems -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150501-154715001
JPCT 050115 S15010297x Vera McAllister, 85, with neighbour Chris Walker, Horsham. Saxon Weald boiler problems -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150501-154715001
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An 85-year-old woman has spent most of the festive period freezing in her own home after a housing association failed to fix a heating problem.

Vera McAllister, from Horsham, has been left cold and frustrated for more than a month after engineers found a problem with the heating system at her home at the beginning of December.

Mrs McAllister lives alone in a house in the North Heath Lane area owned by Horsham-based housing association Saxon Weald. She said the problem was discovered on December 1 after a engineer came round to service her boiler.

She asked the engineer to help bleed her radiators on the ground floor and that’s when he first found the problem.

“He said it was full of gunk and there was nothing he could do at the moment,” Mrs McAllister said.

“He said he needed to get permission from Saxon Weald to fix it. I am a bit annoyed with it all really. I am 85, I do not need this, it has been no fun.”

Mrs McAllister’s boiler broke a few days later and she was left without heating and hot water for the rest of the month.

“I was carrying hot water from the kettle upstairs to wash myself with,” she continued. “I had nine different people come and fix it.

“They would come down and mend it and 12 hours later it would break again. It was on and off, on and off.”

Mrs McAllister did get a break from the freezing temperatures when she went to visit family over Christmas.

But her trip was cut short as she had to come home and let the engineers in and when she got back there was more bad news.

A leak in one of the expansion tanks in her loft left the ceiling of an upstairs bedroom damaged.

She said: “I was told there had been a water leak in one of the tanks. I went away for Christmas and when I came back that’s what I found. I have got frustrated with it all. I can’t have my grandson round to stay whilst my house is like this.”

Her boiler was replaced on New Year’s Eve and heating was restored to the upstairs of the house but a problem with the pipes still means that Mrs McAllister is without any heating in the downstairs of the property. She is currently keeping the lower level of her home warm with electric heaters and said this was badly affecting her electricity bills.

Mrs McAllister has very little family close by. However, friend and neighbour, Chris Walker, 74, has been by her side throughout the past month.

He said: “It is frustrating for her. They went off and left her with no heating and no hot water. You don’t want to be harassed like this at this time of your life.”

Mrs McAllister added:“Chris and his wife are brilliant neighbours and I don’t know where I would be without them. He makes a lovely bowl of soup and I really don’t know what I would have done without him around.”

In response to the problem a spokesperson from Saxon Weald said: “We are very sorry for the problems Mrs McAllister has experienced. Our contractors will be visiting to investigate why there is still a problem, despite us installing a new boiler. In the meantime, we will ensure that Mrs McAllister is not out of pocket for using temporary heaters.”