Heating engineers rally round to help elderly couple keep warm

By Anita Jaynes on 7 March, 2020

Swindon company Priory Heating have become one of the first in the town to sign up to a new initiative to help the elderly keep warm in winter – after replacing a couple’s broken boiler for free. 

The team have become members of DEPHER (Disabled & Elderly Free Plumbing & Heating Service) CIC (Community Interest Company) who work with the elderly and the disabled people in the community and offer free or discounted services.  

Currently based in Burnley, DEPHER’s vision is to roll out the scheme nationally to prevent older people suffering ill health and even death when they get too cold to heat their homes adequately in the winter. 

Liza Van Zyl, co-founder of Priory Heating said, “As engineers working around the Swindon area, we’re very much aware of the health problems which arise during the cold weather, including colds, flu and the risk of hypothermia. 

“We are also well aware that some pensioners try to save money by turning down their heating in cold weather.   We’ve become increasingly aware of this struggle for some of our elderly clients who are having to make a choice between keeping warm during the winter months and paying their other bills on a fixed and limited income.” 

A few weeks ago the team visited an elderly couple in Swindon whose boiler had broken down, and they were using electric heaters to heat their home. 

“What they needed was a new boiler however affording it was simply out of the question,” Liza said. 

“We did our best to keep them warm in the short term but we knew we had to do something more to help them. We chatted to them about what was needed, and put them at ease saying we would soon have them warm.”

Liza and business partner Oli Royall spoke to their suppliers and were able to replace the couple’s boiler free of charge. The couple wish to remain anonymous.

Oli said, “We would like to take this opportunity to thank our suppliers Baxi and Vaillant for their help and many thanks to Swindon Plumbing Supplies; Wolseley, Swindon; City Plumbing, Swindon and Spares Base, Fairford for also helping out.”

Statistics clearly highlight the consequences of these issues. In the winter period of 2018 – 2019 (December to March), there were an estimated 23,300 Excess Winter Deaths in England and Wales. Of those, 46% were men and 54% women. The latter partly explained by the higher proportion of women aged 90 years and over, compared to men.  (ons.gov.uk)

Priory Heating is based in Swindon and was founded by Liza van Zyl who is a qualified heating engineer experienced in heating and boiler installations, landlord inspections and all aspects of heating and plumbing services. The company is Gas Safe registered and a member of Checkatrade.com. For further information visit www.prioryheating.co.uk

Pictured above – The Priory Heating team, from left to right: Ethan Beach (apprentice), Melanie Peck (administrator), Liza van Zyl (director and founder), Oli Royall (director).