SPECIAL funding is up for grabs to help keep homes toasty all year round.

The Tees Valley Warm Homes Fund is sharing out more than £6 million to install brand new central heating systems – free of charge.

The initiative – led by Stockton Borough Council – is part of a national fund established by National Grid and administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions.

And  this week one happy beneficiary described how his new central heating system had transformed his home, and urged others in need to contact the project.

Allan Walker (pictured), who has lived in his North Ormesby home since the 1950s, waved goodbye to costly and inefficient storage heaters and an ageing immersion heater.

In their place are a brand new gas-powered combi boiler central heating and hot water system fitted by the Warm Homes Fund.

The 93-year-old said: “It’s really made a big difference – I can now walk around the whole house and do things in all the rooms which I couldn’t do before.

“I’ve got new radiators in every room and the new boiler is much more efficient than the old immersion heater.

“I’d urge anyone who thinks they might qualify to make the call and see how their home could be transformed.”

To qualify, residents must meet the following criteria:

  • The property must not currently have central heating installed
  • The property must be in Stockton, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough or Redcar & Cleveland
  • The applicant must either own the property or have the permission of the owner

Someone living in the property must either be in receipt of qualifying benefits, have a low household income and high energy bills or have a low household income and be vulnerable to the effects of the cold.

Councillor Ashley Waters, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Regeneration, said: “It’s easy to take for granted, but an efficient and economical central heating system is crucial for health and well-being.

“Too many people still slip through the net, and that’s where this brilliant scheme has the power to transform lives.

“I’d urge anyone need to check if they’re eligible as soon as possible – you’ve nothing to lose, and it could save you a fortune.”

The scheme operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and applications will close once all the funds have been allocated.

To find out if you qualify and to arrange a survey call 01642 526100 (lines open Mon-Thurs 8.30am-5pm, Fri 8.30am-4.30pm) or visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk/WHF