In June’s episode of the BBC’s DIY SOS, the team built a new home for the Ratcliffe family on the Isle of Sheppey - a DIY SOS first! The Hireman donated a range of equipment to help with a life-changing transformation of their home.
If you saw the programme, you will know that the Ratcliffes are an amazing family. Garry and Kyle have four adopted children, each with very complex and life-limiting medical conditions. Their existing house was a cramped three-bedroom bungalow with one bathroom. Initially when they adopted Hayden and Curtis this was manageable but they were then asked to temporarily foster Isobella and Phoebe. When Garry and Kyle learnt that the sisters were to be separated, with Phoebe likely to be adopted and Isobella left in care, they couldn’t bear the thought and decided to adopt both girls to keep them together.
The existing house was no longer suitable and desperately needed serious work but with four children with complex needs, not only could the family not afford the renovations, but the time it would take would have a serious impact on the family. This is where the DIY SOS Big Build team came in.
The job in hand was no small task as the plan was to demolish the Ratcliffe’s existing house and then build a home from scratch in just nine days. On meeting with the DIY SOS team, I was immediately convinced this was something we would want to help with. We agreed a list of equipment that would be needed, coordinated our deliveries with their team and left the build in the hands of the committed tradesmen and ‘purple shirts’.
However, things change quickly in TV land! The initial equipment list was soon out of the window and a much larger list of equipment was requested. With all due credit, our depots reacted swiftly sourcing the requirements and dispatched everything on time.
The day of the Big Reveal arrived and I travelled down to the Isle of Sheppey to be part of the ‘big reveal’. This was quite exciting as on my first visit the house had already been demolished, but now there stood an impressive modern home - and this had all happened in the space of just over a week! Along with 200+ other trades people, I waited in a ‘glamorous’ field up the road from the Ratcliffe’s new home while the DIY SOS team filmed the family's reaction to first entering the house and being given a tour of their new home. Some of the ‘purple shirts’ were on hand to keep the crowd entertained while signing autographs and posing for photos. The final aspect of the filming is the part where the family meet the builders, and it's true to say that the emotion you see on TV is genuine and there is a real sense of community spirit and a proud sense of achievement from the tradesmen and suppliers.
Nick Knowles made a poignant comment to the gathered volunteers which wasn’t televised: TV often shows the worst of the building industry through programmes like Rogue Traders and Cowboy Builders, meaning a few bad apples shape the public perception of our industry. Programmes like DIY SOS show how amazing the building industry is, when companies come together from across the country to work 20 hours a day, provide equipment, supplies and materials, all for free, to benefit a family that really needs the support. It does make you proud to be part of an industry that is capable of such goodwill and camaraderie, and we are proud to have done our bit to help the Ratcliffes.