AN East Lancashire plumber who started a charity to help elderly and vulnerable people - which has been championed by Hugh Grant - has been named the winner of the SGS Engineering Local Hero Award 2022. 

Earlier this year, UK residents were asked to nominate ‘hero’ tradespeople in their area who have gone above and beyond to help their community with their generosity.

A host of nominations for selfless tradespeople flooded in from across the country, and the experts at SGS Engineering then shortlisted seven finalists for a public vote. 

It has now been revealed that James Anderson, from Burnley, of Depher, received 70 per cent of the vote and will collect a well-deserved £1,000 cash prize.

Three regional finalists with wonderful stories of their own will also each receive a £250 cash prize. 

James is regarded as a "kind-hearted plumber", devoting his personal and professional time by setting up Depher, a free service designed to help elderly and vulnerable struggling during the cost-of-living crisis. 

He even came to the attention of Hollywood star Hugh Grant, who donated £10,000 to help the cause of Burnley’s local hero. 

In 2021, Depher and James were awarded a Points of Light Award by the Office of the Prime Minister. 

Visitors to the Depher Facebook group frequently see examples of James’ generosity, including free boiler repairs and installations for people in need, free emergency plumbing support for elderly and vulnerable people, and even purchasing shopping for homeless people. 

Speaking upon receiving the award, James said: "Thank you very much for nominating myself and Depher for this fantastic award, it is overwhelming, and it is humbling. 

"From a business point of view, the people we help may not be family, we may not be blood, but we will continue to treat them as family, and we will always be here

"As long as we have the power to deliver our services, you will never ever be alone, and you will never be in the dark. 

"This is for the people that we supply, the people that we offer support services to, and awards like this give us further power to help them."

Typical of his generosity, James said "a lot of families" would benefit from the £1,000 cash prize. 

Dave Gordon, general manager at SGS Engineering, added: "Congratulations to James and the three regional runners up on their fantastic work and their well-deserved prizes.

"To choose to go out of your way to be kind and generous should be applauded by people up and down the country. 

“Last year, we created the Local Hero Awards to highlight wonderful work done by thoughtful plumbers, builders, electricians, joiners, gardeners, and mechanics who often go under the radar when performing generous acts that help people in their community. 

“We again thank the tradespeople who were nominated for their great work, and congratulations again to James, the runners up, and the other finalists who deserve their recognition.”