Face of the day


SWNS Elizabeth Eaton, a former university lecturer who spent 30 years hoarding thousands of documents

Today’s face of the day, Elizabeth Eaton makes me feel organised even though I am a terribly lazy housekeeper.Elizabeth is a hoarder but thankfully recognised that she had a problem and asked for help.

A former university lecturer’s hoarding became so bad her belongings began spilling out of her letterbox.Elizabeth Eaton, 59, spent 30 years collecting thousands of books, lecture notes and exam papers.But the academic has finally decided to seek help with her obsessive behaviour and roped in cleaning specialists.

The experts have already cleared more than three skips worth of rubbish from her three-bed semi in London after she struggled to move around her cluttered rooms.

Some rooms were buried up to five feet deep in clutter and her three-piece suite in the living room was completely submerged under mounds of rubbish.It wasn’t until Elizabeth, who taught computing at universities across London, noticed her belongings were protruding from her letterbox that she realised the extent of the problem.

She said: “At that point I realised I really needed help sorting it out.

“I remember my friend was helping me sort through some items as more stuff was coming through the letterbox. As soon as we were getting rid of things more was coming in.

Zoe, one of the de-clutter divas who worked on Elizabeth Eaton's house. Pictures in the lounge.

Zoe, one of the de-clutter divas who worked on Elizabeth Eaton’s house. Pictures in the lounge.

“I knew I had to have professional help as it was overwhelming.”

As well as collecting items, she also took a liking to re-homing guinea pigs – and the 11 she kept enjoyed generous-sized pens – leaving them with more room to move around than her.

Elizabeth lives alone and started hoarding to cope with the death of close relatives, a problem that was compounded by her mother Joan’s death in 2007, aged 83, and her aunt Vera, who died aged 94 in December 2014.

She then roped in the help of TV house-clearing experts Allyson Pritchard and Zoe Steel, known as the Declutter Divas, who cleaned up three decades worth of rubbish in just ten days.

Less than a month later Elizabeth feels like a new person and knows she made the right decision.

“They’ve helped me get my life back. I’m so much more confident and I am not embarrassed to invite people to my home which I could never have done before,” she said.



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  • Uncle Bully

    I have an elderly relative like that (maybe not that bad – yet). Won’t let me chuck out junk mail as he insists he will read it later, then stacks it up with the rest, going back years. Every once in a while, while he’s away, I do a bit of a spring clean and heave out piles of old papers, boxes and miscellaneous junk. I think he knows I clean it out, but he never asks about it, just gets back to stockpiling.

    • WeaselKiss

      Experienced a variation on this kind of story recently. I had noticed this chap *Jack* doing a lot of walking up and down the street over several years. I decided to throw together a big roast chicken feed for him which he greatly appreciated. Sometime later I went to collect the benchtop oven I had used to cook it.
      Went in and his (less than 10 year old) house was packed full just like the above.
      BUT every scrap of paper, every newspaper, every power bill etc, every supermarket receipt, in fact it seemed every bit of paper that came into this persons life was stacked all over every available spare flat space in such impossibly tidy little piles. I honestly doubt there would have been more than 1 mm variance in the huge stack of receipts I saw on the bench by the phone.
      (Heh, a hoarder and OCD).
      I stood there taking it all in and I thought…’ in spite of everything this is all too perfect there’s got to be an achilles heel here somewhere’.
      Aha! I spotted in the hallway a stack of at least six cases of red wine!
      Got ‘im! an alky!
      But no, he said he was a member of a wine club though he doesn’t drink much, one bottle lasts him almost a week.
      ‘More restraint than moi’ I thought to myself.
      But certainly not quite the normal scenario we see in the hoarding job.

  • Vutekno

    I don’t think she is a hoarder , what has happened seems to me to simply be the consequence of total laziness not a deliberate desire to store and hold. This is supported by the fact that she has relied on others to clean it up because she is too lazy to do it herself.

  • Jman

    You see far worse cases than this on shows like Hoarding: Buried alive. It’s a really strange mental illness. These people simply find it incredibly hard to throw things away. Even when they are on the point of having their house condemned and their family removed from them they still struggle to allow the cleaners to get rid of what to any normal person is complete junk.