Lowestoft chimney sweeps hlep Santa deliver presents

For one day a year, Father Christmas could be seen as a world expert on chimneys as he squeezes down them to leave presents tomorrow.

But before the jolly present-giver appears in hearths in Suffolk and Norfolk, he relies on the help of much younger chimney sweep experts Justin Block and Leigh Turrell.

The chimney sweeps are enjoying their busiest time of the year as they clear chimneys of soot, bird nests, loose bricks and other blockages as people begin to light up their fires.

And their skills are even more in demand this year as people are moving from gas and electricity fires to woodburners and multi-stoves due to high bills.

Age-old Father Christmas would do a double take if he encountered the pair working as they are believed to be one of the youngest pair of chimney sweeps in the land.

Mr Block, 30, set up Ecoflue which specialises in chimneys, fireplaces, woodburners and multi fuel stoves, in April 2004. His half-brother is only 21 and has been sweeping chimneys since he was 16, helping to make sure people do not fall victim to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr Block, from Beach Road, said: 'People always leave it to the last minute to have their chimney swept. It is a very busy period for us.

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'I do not enjoy getting dirty, but I enjoy meeting people when I work and going to places such as halls and manor houses.

'It is also nice to make sure Father Christmas does not get covered in soot coming down chimneys.'

Mr Turrell was offered a job as chimney sweep by his half brother in 2005 and has gone on to complete an advanced chimney sweep course.

He said: 'I like being a chimney sweep. I think it is quite an unusual job for a 21-year-old.

Ecoflue is one of the 400 members of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps whose safety motto for chimneys is 'Get it checked, get it swept and get it safe.'

The association president Martin Glynn said it was unusual to have a 30-year-old and a 21-year-old working together as chimney sweeps.

Chimneys should be swept once a year for homes with gas, oil and smokeless fuel appliances and quarterly for homes with woodburners.

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