The importance of tradespersons to society has been reinforced by a story published this week in American newspaper the Herald-Mail.

According to the publication, 78 year-old widow Lillian Maggio, who is recovering from hip surgery, was facing a difficult Christmas Day after her hot water boiler started leaking, causing water damage in her garage.

She called upon her neighbour Eva June Kavookian to help, who then leafed through the Yellow Pages to see if anyone could come out to fix the problem - expecting little success with so many plumbing services closed for Christmas.

However, Tom Newcomb, who runs the A Plus Plumbing business, answered and promptly came over to Ms Maggio's property and replaced the old heater free of charge.

The repair work would normally cost in the region of $500 (£315).

Ms Kavookian told the newspaper about Mr Newcomb's generosity.

"He deserves our recommendation, gratitude and patronage. Our world needs more people like Tom," she said.

The Co-operative Insurance recently urged homeowners in Britain to prepare their properties for the winter weather by regularly getting their boilers checked by a professional with approved plumbing qualifications.

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