Our homes are at the centres of our worlds; it’s the place we feel most comfortable, where we can relax and fully be ourselves, and spend time with those we love.
After many years in construction, I’ve learned exactly what homes mean to their inhabitants.
When the world outside is hard and unforgiving you need to know that you have a home to go to – physically and emotionally.
That’s why I’ve always been happy to use my skills to help others and volunteer whenever time allows.
I’m incredibly passionate about what I do and so when the opportunity arose to help out on DIY SOS; the BBC home renovation television show presented by Nick Knowles, I was ready to go. If you haven’t seen the program, they call upon friends and family of the homeowners and local tradesmen and women to volunteer a little of their time to help a family who have been stuck in a renovation nightmare or with an unsuitable home for their physical needs.
I loved working with them and I was lucky enough to be involved with three of their projects in total.
The First Project: Herefordshire
The first time I worked with DIY SOS was in Herefordshire, where I spent 9 days helping to develop a home suitable for an extraordinary little boy who, at only 7 years old, was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; a disease that causes muscles to weaken and often reduces life expectancy.
He and his family needed wheelchair access in their home so he could go upstairs to his bedroom at night, rather than staying downstairs alone and excluded from the rest of the family. The work they needed was quoted at £200,000 to complete, so they believed they would be stuck making do until a neighbour put them forward to DIY SOS.
We stepped in and added a lift so he could go upstairs, a wet room so he could shower more easily, and we completely landscaped the garden with a small tarmac race circuit so he could go out into the garden and play with his brother.
We completed several more small adjustments, and when the project completed the home was perfectly set up to help them live a normal family life.
I was, and still am, incredibly proud to play a small part in changing their lives for the better.
The Second Project: Peterborough
The Third Project: Surrey
I was truly humbled by the opportunities I had while working with DIY SOS and the other people I met while working on these projects; from the family and their friends to the other tradesmen who also volunteered their services from all over the UK. The sense of camaraderie between us all is a memory I’ll never forget and was truly heart-warming.
The race as since evolved and it is no longer run in the winter but in the spring, and for charity instead of a beer, but it is still a gruelling test of strength, balance, and at times sanity! People from all over the UK come to dress up, take on the challenge, and get completely covered in mud.
I chose to donate my sponsorship money to the Essex Air Ambulance and though the race was hard, I was more than happy to finish 111th out of 310 participants.
I have met people through my voluntary work who I found truly humbling, for they remain strong in the face of adversity.
I will keep you updated on my latest voluntary and charity work to encourage and inspire you to do the same.
You can do a lot of good in the world whether you donate your money or your time and skills to those who truly need it.