CARING constable Dan O’Connell is pulling out all the stops to help a crime victim welcome his seriously-ill wife from hospital.
Special constable Dan has recruited an army of coppers to help give Stephen and Maureen Ford's home a major facelift.
Dan first met Mr Ford, 67, when he took a statement from him after an attack in Billericay High Street on June 30.
He recalled: “It was a nasty assault. I took a statement from him at the police station and as we were talking, he opened up about how he was struggling to get social services to help to adapt his home for his wife, Maureen, who had broken her hip.
“She was in Basildon Hospital because of that and a number of mini-strokes.
“Mr Ford had been diagnosed with leukaemia but was refusing treatment until his wife was better.
“He was struggling to cope.
“I took him home and made him a brew and I could see he’d tried to do some work to the house, but needed some help.”
When Dan went home that evening, he went on Facebook to appeal to police colleagues to help.
He was delighted to be inundated with messages from colleagues, keen to get involved in what he dubbed “Operation Welcome Home”.
Dan added: “The support has been amazing.
“Many officers have been doing 12 to 14-hour days, helping out in Colchester after the murders.
“People who have not had time to help have donated overtime pay to help buy materials.”
Officers will be working all this week at the Fords’ house, off Outwood Common Road, fitting it in around their shifts to repaint the house, lay new carpets and give the garden a good going over.
Local businesses have so far offered paint and carpet, but Dan is still keen to hear from any others willing to donate materials.
He added: “I know it’s a big thing to ask but I’d love to be able to give them a whole new kitchen.
“We also want to hear from any companies which can help us with the garden.”
Mr Ford said he was still in shock, after hearing of the generosity of Dan and his colleagues.
He explained: “I’d been trying to get a new ramp outside the house so I can get Maureen’s wheelchair in and out.
“It has been difficult for me to admit I needed help, but I’ve been shaken by the kindness shown to me by Dan. He has totally restored my faith in human nature.
“He deserves a medal for what he has done for us.
“Maureen and I have been married 44 years. She’s everything to me. I’ve missed her something chronic while she has been in hospital.
“It’ll be an amazing surprise for her when she gets home and sees all the work.”
If you can help Dan, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org