Maria launches campaign to raise £10,000 to buy Ely’s ‘Willow Man’ a new boat

Lee England - known in Ely as 'The Willow Man' - and Maria Stableford.

Lee England - known in Ely as 'The Willow Man' - and Maria Stableford. - Credit: Archant

A Littleport woman has launched a campaign to raise £10,000 so an Ely man can buy a new houseboat after his sank last weekend.

Lee England's boat, which sank in Ely last weekend.

Lee England's boat, which sank in Ely last weekend. - Credit: Archant

Maria Stableford has created a JustGiving page to help raise funds so that Lee England – known locally as ‘The Willow Man’ - can get back on track after losing his boat, which was the base for his business and home.

Maria’s campaign originally centred on an appeal for pumps so that Lee’s boat could be hoisted out of the river and saved.

However, after numerous attempts, it is now unlikely that the boat would survive future efforts, so she now hopes to raise enough to buy Lee a new one.

Lee England's boat, which sank in Ely last weekend.

Lee England's boat, which sank in Ely last weekend. - Credit: Archant

She said: “For many years, Lee has been living and selling his amazing willow sculptures and structures from the roof of his boat.


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“He is fondly thought of and he loves talking to visitors to the river about his fine work.

“Sadly, just over a week ago, his life was turned upside down. In one moment, he lost everything – his home, his business and his willow tools.

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“He had built his boat himself and it had meant the world to him.”

Maria has already lent a helping hand by visiting local shops and businesses, collecting food and other donations.

“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,” she said.

“Hopefully we will be able to buy Lee a new boat and allow him to buy more tools so that he can continue to run his business.

“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 but can’t afford to stay there for much longer.”

The online campaign has raised £110 so far. To donate, click here, and for more information, search ‘Ely Willow Man – Support’ on Facebook or call Maria on 07940 232609.

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