A father who appeared on Channel 5’s Rich House Poor House has paid tribute to a millionaire after he bestowed a generous gift on his family.
Millionaire Matt Fiddles traded homes with Andy Leamon on Thursday night’s episode and was so moved by the family’s struggles he gave them a life-changing present.
Andy and his disabled wife Kim stayed in Fiddles’ six-bedroom mansion in Wooten Basset while he took up residence in their council house in Southampton.
The Leamon, family who appeared on Thursday night’s Rich House Poor House, have thanked millionaire Matt Fiddles for donating a mobility scooter to disabled mother Kim Leamon
After learning of Kim’s struggles to leave the house due to her Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome Matt donated a brand new mobility scooter to the family.
In footage shared with the Sun Online Andy can be seen becoming overwhelmed by the martial arts expert’s generosity.
Speaking to the Sun, Any, a father-of-four said: ‘It’s made a massive difference. Kim can take the kids to school, which is the biggest thing.
Andy and Kim Leamon and their two children from Southampton featured in tonight’s episode of Channel 5’s Rich House Poor House
‘She is able to go down to the shops as well so it has given her some independence and opened a lot of doors.’
Matt, who also left the family an emotional note with the present, had broken the rules of the Channel 5 show which states that contestants must not donate money in order to provide the scooter.
The Leamon and the Fiddes families were participants in a new series of Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, which sees a family from the richest ten per cent of British society swap homes (and lives) with a family from the poorest ten per cent.
And while Matt was clearly moved by the family’s plight viewers were less convinced by the Leamon.
Viewers of last night’s show took to Twitter to insist that Andy and Kim Leamon and their two children from Southampton who have £170 a week to spend on food, clothes and socialising after paying their mortgage and bills are certainly not struggling.
Matt Fiddes and Moniqe Fiddes outside their home with their four children: Savannah, Lola, Zach and Hero
However, multiple fans of the show said they wished they had the best part of £700 a month left after paying for essentials.
Others said that a four-bedroom house, a Vauxhall Astra and Sky TV signifies that the family is getting by just fine.
One viewer questioned what the programme makers would call those who have to rely on food banks if they classed this family as ‘poor’.
Andy works night shifts so he can earn a modest salary of around £1,000 a month and care for his disabled wife and through careful budgeting, the couple manage to spend just £40 a week on food.
Viewers questioned whether the Leamons were really ‘poor’ with £170 a week, a car and Sky TV
The Leamons swapped their council home in Southampton for a vast mansion with a 60 acre garden, including an orchard and horses, with a Bentley and a Land Rover and Range Rover in the drive.
Being canny Lidl shoppers, used to eking out a £40-a-week budget to feed a family of four, the Leamons baulked at how much the Fiddes family — their ‘house-swap’ partners — spent on their main supermarket shop in one week.
And given the Fiddeses’ love of eating out in fancy restaurants and ordering in expensive takeaways, this wasn’t even their full food bill.
‘They spent nearly £200!’ says Kim, 32. ‘The most shocking thing was that they’d ordered six packs of avocados — with two in each pack. Who needs so many? The avocados alone were £16.20. That’s more than my son’s school shoes cost!’
Moniqe Fiddes washing up at Leamon house. The family were humbled to step into the shoes of the husband who works night shifts to earn a modest salary of around £1,000 a month
On camera, millionaire Matt Fiddes is moved to tears when he compares his parenting skills with Andy’s, and finds himself lacking. Money, he concludes, cannot buy a happy family life.
‘I think Andy is a superhero,’ he says. ‘His kids worship him. He puts everyone else before himself.
‘He looks after his wife, does everything around the house — and holds down a job. If this experiment has taught me one thing it’s that I want to be more like him. I got to spend the whole week with my kids, which is unusual. They don’t want your money — they want your time.’
Both families had their eyes opened during their experience. Kim was shocked to discover that even spending £200 on groceries — including fine wines and steak — did not cover the basics.
‘I had to go out and buy things for the kids’ lunches,’ she reveals.
So did she enjoy being able to eat top-end groceries? Apparently not.
‘I couldn’t help but feel that if I’d been given £200 to spend on groceries, I could have made it go so much further. I could have shopped for the month,’ she says.
Husband Andy, 33, agrees. ‘I guess when you don’t have to worry about money, you just don’t care what you spend.’
The Leamon Family at Thorpe Park. Both families had their eyes opened during their experience
Matt, 37, the man whose life they lived for a week, runs a chain of 700 martial arts schools and was a millionaire by the time he was 21.
He was a one-time friend and bodyguard to Michael Jackson, and ‘moved in those circles’, thinking it normal to have private jets, designer wardrobes and more bathrooms than you can ever use.
While he hasn’t exactly got his own private Neverland, Matt’s tastes do veer towards the blingtastic.
With a business empire worth a reported £30 million, he lives in a lavish six- bedroom home in the Wiltshire countryside.
Olivia and Freddie Leamon at the Fiddes House playing on the 60-acre sprawling garden – far bigger than they are used to at their home
Moniqe, 24, a glamorous former singer from South Africa, has a vast wardrobe of designer clothes and a cleaner to make her stay-at-home-mum role easier.
The couple’s sons, Hero, one, and Zack, four, and Matt’s daughters Lola, 11 and Savannah, ten, from his first marriage, have only to ask for branded trainers for them to appear.
‘I do spoil them, particularly the girls, because I wasn’t around a lot when they were little,’ he admitted.
The couple’s attitude to money? It’s perhaps best summed up by Matt’s admission that he keeps banknotes in the door pocket of his car, ‘and if a few tenners fly out, I wouldn’t be bothered running after them’.
The Leamons, on the other hand, watch every penny. Kim can no longer work, following an accident a few years ago, and suffers from a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which leaves her unable to walk for more than a few yards. She gets around using crutches and a borrowed wheelchair.
Andy’s very modest salary, around £1,000 a month, supports the couple and children Freddie, ten, and Olivia, eight. He works in an emergency call centre for the elderly, mostly doing night shifts so he can act as a full-time carer for his wife.
The Leamons constantly worry about the mortgage payments on their home — a three-bedroom terrace on a Southampton council estate. And not being able to feed their children in the run up to payday is a genuine fear.
‘We signed up for the show because it would mean one week of not having to worry about bills,’ Andy says.
‘It was everything to be financially stable for a week. Filming was the week before payday, too. Good timing.’
The Fiddes family walking around Leamons family’s area, which is a Southampton council estate
Critics will doubtless say the show’s concept is cruel. After all, at the end of the week each family goes back to their own lives. For the Leamons in particular, this must have been difficult. ‘We saw it as a holiday,’ Andy confides. ‘The chance of a lifetime, to live as millionaires.’
The rules of the show are simple. Each family moves into the other’s home, and is handed their spending money for the week.
After their mortgage and bills are accounted for, the Leamons are left with £170 a week to spend (on food, clothes and socialising), so this is what the Fiddes family have at their disposal.
Their shock is palpable. ‘That would just about fill my fuel tank in the car,’ says Matt. The Leamon family take much longer counting out their spending money.
Andy is left reeling to discover it comes to £1,500.
The couple’s sons with their sons Hero, one, and Zack, four, and Matt’s daughters Lola, 11 and Savannah, ten, from his first marriage
‘That’s more than I earn in a month. And they have that for a week,’ he tells me. ‘I could have cried.’
So, now they are back home, how did each family find the experiment? Andy and Kim admit that, on the surface at least, they had a blast.
They got to go out for an unheard-of meal together, sampled caviar (not worth the money, it seems) and tried not to faint when the bill arrived (£254).
‘I got to drive a Bentley, which was a dream come true,’ says Andy. ‘When you put your foot down, it purrs — it actually purrs.’
Kim, meanwhile, was taken aback by the house.
‘It was stunning,’ she says. ‘I’ll probably never be in a house like it again. But it was too big — with my mobility problems, I simply couldn’t get around it.’
What did she make of Moniqe’s wardrobe? Kim chooses her words carefully. ‘She can afford to splash out and is obviously someone who cares a lot about clothes and make-up. I don’t, and I don’t think I would even if I could afford to.’
Then there’s the garden. It makes for emotional viewing watching Kim sit (in a hired mobility scooter, which they could never afford in the ‘real’ world) looking over the rolling countryside that makes up the Fiddeses’ back garden.
‘I don’t want to leave,’ she says. ‘This view makes you feel as though you have no worries in the world.’
By contrast, the cramped living conditions at the Leamons’ home visibly stun the Fiddes family.
‘My kids and my wife are used to living in a big house in the countryside. They’ve never had neighbours,’ explains Matt. On arrival, he has to explain the basics. ‘These are terraced houses,’ he says, as his kids (and wife) seem to think they have landed on another planet.
‘On the first night, no one slept very much,’ Matt tells me. ‘There was a lot of noise — people outside, shouting, smoking, music playing. There were sirens overhead. Moniqe was scared. I ended up sleeping on the sofa, just in case.’
There are other adjustments to be made — on both sides. While the Leamons struggle with the fact they have a choice of bathrooms, the Fiddes family seem horrified to have only one.
When Moniqe cannot get hot water for her shower, Matt blows £50 of their tiny budget on an emergency plumber. ‘There was so much that needed fixing in the bathroom. And outside the patio slabs were unsafe,’ he says. ‘That got to me: the idea that these people couldn’t afford to get stuff like that fixed, and had to live with it.’
The Leamon family (left) swapped places with the Fiddes clan (right) in a show that switches the bottom and top ten per cent of Britain’s population
Kim, meanwhile, gets to see how the other half live when she takes her daughter shopping for new clothes — a rare event. Rarer still is that she can afford to pay £63 for two dresses. ‘To see how happy Olivia was with her new dresses was incredible,’ she says.
So what do she and Andy buy for themselves? Nothing. Old habits die hard. Though they do splash some considerable cash on a day at a theme park.
Back with the Fiddeses, while Moniqe makes a good stab at feeding her family on a budget, it’s clear how little Matt usually does on the domestic front. During their five-year marriage, Moniqe reveals, he has never cleaned a dish or cooked a meal. This quickly becomes apparent. ‘How do you make the foam?’ he asks, when asked to wash the dishes.
But the big question, of course, is whether each family would want to swap with the other permanently? Not surprisingly, the Fiddes family say they were thrilled to get back to their own lavish abode.
And the Leamons? While Andy says he could get used to that sort of lifestyle (‘I’d have the car in a flash’), Kim is not so sure.
‘I’d say I love my own home, but maybe with a bit of their sort of money I’d do it up,’ she says.
‘To be able to afford a stairlift would be nice.’
Rich House, Poor House, Channel 5, Thursday, 9pm.