Housing hero wins award for saving life of a Halifax man

Sean Hale (left) with Yorkshire Housing homeworks delivery manager Andy Kelham at an awards presentation.
Sean Hale (left) with Yorkshire Housing homeworks delivery manager Andy Kelham at an awards presentation.

A Yorkshire Housing site foreman has won a hero award for saving the life of a vulnerable customer in Halifax.

Sean Hale, leading the fitting of new kitchens in Halifax, called police back in February when there was no answer at the door from an elderly customer.

Officers broke in and found the resident in bed barely conscious having become ill overnight.

Read: Never seen before pictures of the £19m Piece Hall transformation after it closed its doors five years ago

The man, 72, who is also deaf, was rushed to hospital for treatment for hyponatremia – low levels of sodium in the blood.

Symptoms include dehydration and brain swelling that can lead to headaches, seizures, coma and even death.

The customer is believed to have been only a couple of hours away from falling into a coma when Sean acted at around 8.20am that morning.

Sean said: “From what the hospital said, having checked, it’s possible that he might not still be here had we not acted.

“If we hadn’t done anything, and I then subsequently found out that the gentleman had died, I’d never have been able to live with myself.”

Sean and his Yorkshire Housing Homeworks team had been fitting new kitchens in Pellon.

Staff were also making daily checks to see how residents were coping with the kitchen refurbishments – and so knew the customer was around.

But agency worker Chris Doubtfire could not get an answer when he knocked on the door on the morning of February 26.

Realising something might be amiss, he called Sean, who also could not get an answer at the door.

Read: Spot the eye-catching new bike racks around Halifax town centre

Sean said: “We noticed the curtains in the bedroom were still drawn and the milk was still out.

“But the living room curtains were pulled back part of the way and you could see that the TV was on.

“We also spoke with a neighbour, who said the TV had been on loud all night, and so we thought something was wrong.”

Police were called, and when they too were unable to get an answer at the door, they used a battering ram to break it down. They found the man, who had also lost his hearing aid, in bed and very poorly.

An ambulance was called and the customer was rushed to hospital after being checked over by paramedics.

Sean reported the situation to Yorkshire Housing neighbourhood housing officer Pamela Davies, who arranged for emergency repairs to the door.

The customer is now out of hospital but has moved into residential care in Halifax.

Sean was presented with the award by managers at the housing association’s headquarters in Leeds.

Modest Sean said of his award: “I was just doing my job.

“It’s always nice to be recognised for something I’ve done. But I hope it’s something that anybody would do in the same situation.”​

Read: Award-winning International Market is returning to Halifax