Fareham company hands cancer-stricken builder new tools after van thefts worth £10,000

A BUILDER who was struck by disaster three times in one year '˜feels like he's won the lottery' after being given a lifeline from the world of construction.

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 5:00 am
Builder Lee Newman celebrates with staff from Armorgard in Fareham after they organised a tool collection for him following a number of successive thefts of all his equipment from his van. Reuben Mitchell, left, Lee,centre and Graham Fletcher. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180204-1)

Fifty-four-year-old Lee Newman had £5,000 worth of tools stolen on two separate occasions, and was diagnosed with incurable cancer last year.

But yesterday the self-employed father received a new set of tools and equipment thanks to Fareham-based company Armorguard.

Staff at the company sought to help Lee after discovering his plight – and managed to rake in tool donations from other companies across the construction industry.

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Builder Lee Newman celebrates with staff from Armorgard in Fareham after they organised a tool collection for him following a number of successive thefts of all his equipment from his van. Reuben Mitchell, left, Lee,centre and Graham Fletcher. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180204-1)

Lee, a self-employed father, said: ‘My tools were stolen from my van outside my house during the night, both times.

‘The first time it happened was last February, and I replaced everything with my own money.

‘I had the same kit stolen again just before Christmas – one week after I’d finally finished replacing what had been stolen previously.

‘In August I was diagnosed with cancer of the blood, follicular lymphoma, and you can’t get rid of it.

Builder Lee Newman celebrates with staff from Armorgard in Fareham after they organised a tool collection for him following a number of successive thefts of all his equipment from his van. Reuben Mitchell, left, Lee,centre and Graham Fletcher. Picture Ian Hargreaves (180204-1)

‘I felt very low, having the tools taken was bad enough and then to find that out -– it doesn’t make you want to get up in the mornings.’

Lee carried on working despite his illness, because the form of chemotherapy he has doesn’t affect his day-to-day life too much.

He added: ‘When my tools were stolen again in December, with everything else that was going on, I just thought, “what’s the point?”.

‘I feel humbled at the amount of support I’ve had.

‘It’s been amazing – the world can be such a bad place but there’s people doing things like this to help others.

‘I feel like I’ve won the lottery.’

Lee’s stepson Olly Withington set up a JustGiving page to help to replace some of the tools, shared it on social media, and raised £1,700.

It was through this that two members of staff at Armorguard, a company which provides secure storage and logistical products for the construction industry, became aware of the tradesman’s problems.

Reuben Mitchell, marketing manager, and Graham Fletcher, operations manager were the driving force behind getting the donations in.

Reuben, 25, said: ‘We hear stories every day about people who have been affected by tool thefts, but when we heard Lee’s we were particularly touched because he’d also been struck down by cancer.

‘Supporting him was a no-brainer really, we used social media to get the donations in and pull the construction industry together to help.

‘It feels great to see Lee get his new kit.’

Armorguard said it is aware of the increase in equipment theft in recent years, and is launching a campaign to help to raise awareness about the problem.

Stepson Olly, 30, said: ‘Lee has never put anything on social media about his cancer, he never shouted about his tool thefts, and to me he’s the worthiest person to help.

‘So many people would see these problems as an excuse not to go to work and be deflated but he’s shown such courage to continue, I knew something had to be done to help him.’