Pride of Plumbing: James Crabb’s story

During 2021, we’ve challenged the nation to highlight incredible individuals from the plumbing community who have gone above and beyond over the past 18 months.  Our judges had some difficult decisions to make, but following on from Dan Ford’s Hearts for Hope, the next Pride of Plumbing 2021 story is now available to watch.
James Crabb - Pride of Plumbing

James Crabb, manager of Retford Boiler Services in Retford, Nottinghamshire, was put forward for Pride of Plumbing 2021 for carrying out over 120 free boiler services for NHS staff. The idea began as a gesture of thanks to the front-line hospital workers who were enduring difficult working conditions each day, with the offer being shared on Retford Boiler Services’ social media channels.

The level of response meant that James had to recruit staff to complete the work, which cost the business around £10,000.

We caught up with James to hear more about his background, and how the situation unfolded.

“So, I came into plumbing quite late on. I’d already done various other jobs, but I wanted more of a career, so I went to night school and trained to be a plumber that way”

“With the free boiler services, I had a bit of a eureka moment, really. I was in bed one morning, and I just thought this is a way of giving back to the people who’ve been working the hardest throughout all this. We thought, of all things at the time, that boiler service probably wasn’t their highest priority, but it still needed doing. So, we thought we’d offer that for free, just as a thank you.”

“I did a Facebook post and we immediately got loads of responses from it. I ended up having to take on some staff to try and organise it, because there was no way that I could administrate that many. So it actually cost me a lot of money to do all this stuff for free. We did about 120, which equates to about £10,000.”

James strongly believed that despite the costs incurred, this was the right thing to do, sticking to his word and ensuring that NHS workers had one less thing to worry about.

“We did have a lot of people ask us, if we were getting paid by the government to do it, which obviously wasn’t true. We were just doing it out of the goodness of our hearts, basically.”

Nurse Nikki Phillips was one of the hospital workers that James was able to provide a boiler service for. She explained the impact that the gesture had on her:

“It made me feel appreciated, valued, and I think a lot of the staff needed to feel that. They needed that boost to get through the pandemic because it was immensely stressful, very scary, because none of us knew what to expect.

“So, when James came around to do my service, he was very prompt, polite, professional. He was wearing PPE – his face mask, his face visor and some gloves, and I think he had an apron on as well. It was the first time, other than my husband, that I had had anybody in the house during the pandemic.

“James left me a very nice thank you note to the NHS on my boiler, the rainbow symbol, which was lovely. It was nice to know that somebody like James was prepared to give something back to us and make us feel appreciated. And that’s how it made me feel.”


Watch James’ story in full here.