Can you help? Maria leads campaign to help Ely ‘Willow Man’ get back on his feet after his houseboat sinks

Maria Stableford has collected food, bedding and other items for Lee England, known as 'the Willow m

Maria Stableford has collected food, bedding and other items for Lee England, known as 'the Willow man,' whose boat sank in Ely last weekend. - Credit: Archant

A Littleport woman has created an online group to try and help a local man whose boat sank in Ely get back on his feet.

Maria Stableford kick-started a Facebook group last week in an attempt to help Lee England, known locally as ‘The Willow Man,’ whose houseboat – which contained his belongings and a number of important work tools - sank last weekend.

She is hoping that through the power of social media, she can help to restock him with new tools, food and, eventually, his much-loved boat.

“In one foul swoop he has lost his business and his home,” Maria said.

“Lee has always been happy to chat with visitors about his the willow structures he makes.

“He’s a shy and unassuming man but he now realises that he needs a bit of help.”

Maria has also been in contact with the Paradise Centre in Ely to see if they will allow Lee to use their showers until his boat is back on the water, and has also organised a food package from the local branch of Waitrose alongside other donations from other local businesses.

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“We now have enough food in the garage for at least six weeks, as well as plenty of pots and pans and promise of a wind-up torch and radio secured,” Maria said.

“Lee has also been leant another boat but it is small and not very habitable.

“He doesn’t want to be off the water – he has been in a hotel for the last five days but can’t afford to stay there for much longer.

“He needs a sleeping bag and a few other bits, and I have a garage that they can be stored in if anyone can supply them.

“Hopefully, after a while, we’ll be able to get him some new power tools so he can start his business again.”

Work has begun to try and drain the water from Lee’s boat - but more pumps are needed.

“Hopefully someone, maybe from the farming community, can come forward with another pump along with a flotation device,” Maria said.

“We need a couple more petrol pumps that have two, three or four inch pipes. Once we have enough, we should be able to get Lee’s boat out of the water.”

For more information, search ‘Ely Willow Man – Support’ on Facebook or call Maria on 07940 232609.