Life was simply great for Allyson Whalley. After falling for new hubby Paul Horton, Allyson made the bold decision to relocate 100 miles from her childhood home in Yorkshire to come and live with him in Staffordshire.
With both maintaining full-time jobs, Allyson’s 21-year-old son George also came with his mum to Burntwood and Paul’s daughter Hayley regularly visited them as the new family began making memories together.
But 18 months of relative bliss was shattered suddenly one day by the news that their landlord wanted to sell the privately rented property and needed them out.
“We had one month to move all of our things out and it wasn’t really enough time to find an alternative home,” the 46-year-old recalls.
“We ended up living in our touring caravan on a campsite and for a time we also lived on Paul’s mum and dad’s driveway in Burntwood. My son moved back to live in Yorkshire too.”
The development was compounded by Allyson being diagnosed with a chronic bladder condition that regularly left her fighting on through serious pain.
“I would often be at work just crying through the pain so it was a pretty desperate situation whilst we were in the caravan, it really felt like the lowest of low moments for both of us. I don’t think either of us could quite contemplate just how quickly our situation had changed.”
They started bidding for properties in the local area and last summer were successful on a two-bedroom upper-floor flat in the town.
Allyson continued: “Karen, our neighbourhood coach, came to visit us in the caravan and she saw straight through our charade immediately – she knew we were desperately unhappy and needed a fresh start in a home of our own.”
The couple picked up their keys on 9 August 2018 and moved in shortly afterwards, since completing a huge transformation to the property – decorating all five rooms and stairs and landing for just £1,000.
“We did the ceilings first and then painted and wallpapered each room at the same time, sleeping on an airbed and working into the nights after work until it was all done. We chose an overall theme for the whole property and just stuck to it, which lowered the cost of things like paint. I also got so many bargains from places like B&M and Facebook Marketplace so it absolutely didn’t have to cost a fortune.”
When neighbourhood coach Karen Gibbons visited to see how the couple were getting on, she was shocked at what she found.
“I knew they just needed someone to take a chance on them but the transformation they have achieved in such a short space of time, and on such a budget, is truly remarkable – the property was a real blank canvas when they moved in and really needed some TLC,” Karen said.
Six months after moving in, Allyson and Paul regularly take the bins out for their neighbours and are making themselves at home as part of their new community.
“We both now come home from work with massive smiles on our faces – and actually want to spend time at home and inviting people over. We asked Bromford for help in the kindest possible way and I still remember bursting into tears when we were offered the property.
“Giving us that trust and opportunity has enabled us to come together again as a family and for Paul and I, it has given us our life back and our self-respect. Through sheer hard work and determination – and a bit of bargain hunting – we’ve managed to make our house a home and we couldn’t be happier,” Allyson added.