Extreme giver gets makeover

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Queenstown’s community spirit alive and well as helpers transform ‘icebox’ into Home Sweet Home

After battling cancer for five months, Queens­town blind pianist Mark Wilson got a huge pick-me-up on returning to his flat this week.

Courtesy of local trades­men, suppliers and friends, Wilson’s 1970s apartment has had an extreme makeover worth tens of thousands of dollars while the musician recovered at his parents’ home in Cromwell.

It started when Wilson’s father Boyd asked tradesman Pete McInally to find some second-hand carpet to patch a hole in the lounge’s shagpile.

When McInally saw the flat’s condition – “a wee icebox” – he realised more could be done.

“I thought, we have a couple of months up our sleeves, why don’t I start asking around?”

And he hit the jackpot.

Building supplier Carters offered materials and McInally roped in friend Trevor Meikle, a Rilean Construction director whose daughter had had music lessons from Wilson.

Meikle in turn got mate Jason Campbell to supply a heat pump and electrical works. “Jason said he didn’t know Mark but his wife reminded him he’d played at their wedding.”

McInally tapped Coronet Woodware’s Martin Mac­Donald to rebate the windows to allow double-glazing, which Queens­town Glass supplied.

“I hit Martin up for a new kitchen while he was there.”

There was no wall insulation so Pink Batts were added.

Although the initial plan was just to warm the apartment, McInally says the bathroom needed attention, too – so Plumworx was enlisted.

“There was just an old cubicle shower with curtains, so water could be pouring on to the floor [and] Mark wouldn’t know and he could slip over.”

For safety’s sake, power points were added after finding just one oven plug served eight appliances through two multiboxes.

Woodlot Properties chipped in with a new oven while Smiths City discounted big-ticket furniture and donated other items.

The apartment’s body corporate funded a new flatscreen TV.

Most work was completed at night or on weekends and there was a frantic rush before Wilson came home to the flat on Tuesday.

McInally and Meikle say the project shows that despite tough times, Queenstown’s community spirit is alive and well.

“Everyone’s got a good feeling out of it and many are embarrassed to have their contribution mentioned,” Meikle says.

Campbell Electric co-owner Lisa Campbell says it was a pleasure.

“Mark is one guy who has given so much and never expected anything in return.”

Extra donations to the Mark Wilson Trust Account at ANZ Bank will go towards other furniture items.