Wednesday 13 November 2013, 12:08
Watch DIY SOS: The Million Pound Build for BBC Children in Need Wednesday 13 November 8pm BBC One
BBC One's DIY SOS has been running on Prime Time TV in the UK for 15 years and is now broadcast around the world, but no build has ever been on as big a scale as the one we just did for BBC Children in Need.
We had always thought the ultimate build, in the short space of time allocated by the format, would be to build a house from the ground up but it would stretch things to the limit. When we were asked by BBC Children in Need to look at a site for the Little Miracles charity in Peterborough, we questioned the feasibility of the build. The building alone would be three times the floor area of the largest house we had ever renovated on the show and then there was the landscaping of two acres of woodland to consider too! However, we decided to take on our biggest ever challenge.
Normally we transform an existing two or three bedroom house and add on something like an extension in nine days but we built a brand new centre for Little Miracles from the ground up, in the same time it takes us to do every other build, thanks to the incredible generosity of the volunteers who joined our team and helped make this happen. The ‘BBC Children in Need Big Build' quickly became known as the ‘Million Pound Build’ in the office after the job, estimated to cost £1 million to complete in nine months took nine days. With a tiny budget of a few thousand pounds, we knocked down the concrete shed that previously had no facilities or disabled access and recreated a brand new, 250 square metre state of the art new facility, with two acres of fully landscaped, wheelchair accessible woodland complete with adventure trails and play areas.
So why Little Miracles? Three and a half years ago, a lady called Michelle was refused access to the last bus home with her disabled children because one was on oxygen and the canister was considered too dangerous to be on board. After sitting on the bus in tears, refusing to get off, a woman next to her said “it will be alright.” That one moment of kindness from a stranger made Michelle determined that other parents should have some support, so she decided to set up a support group for parents of children with disabilities and life limiting illnesses, offering advice, counseling and respite. Three and a half years on, she now looks after over 800 families who simply have nowhere else to go. The volunteers in the construction industry knew this, as did the army of gardeners, landscapers, technicians and er.... Army personnel,who made it happen.
The people giving up days of work for us or supplying materials or furniture, kitchens or play equipment only had one reward for their generosity, to see the faces of those families who benefit from the newly opened facility. It made all those involved proud to have run themselves ragged to build it.
It was too big, too ambitious and too close to notbeing finished, but the legacy those volunteers have left Peterborough will give desperately needed respite and support to the lives of so many and become a hub not only for Little Miracles but many other groups in the area.
People are much better than even they themselves believe they can be and are truly capable of making ‘Little Miracles’.
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Wednesday 13 November 2013, 11:32
Thursday 14 November 2013, 12:25