What it was like to help on the DIY SOS – The Big Build?

Sometimes the worst of humanity brings out the best in humanity as a result. In March 2015, Cambridge United FC fan Simon Dobbin was brutally attacked and left with severe brain damage.  As a result his life, and that of his family was turned upside down. Their home in Mildenhall didn’t offer what they needed to support Simon, to the extent that to have a shower, a journey to the local leisure centre was the only option.

So earlier this month when the BBCs DIY SOS – The Big Build team moved in with the usual suspects including Nick Knowles and Billie ‘the Spark’, geo were ready to support.

The build was incredible. On day 1, the house was stripped back to only external walls within 2 hours, and by early afternoon new walls were going up. 93 people from all walks and trades, working in unison to prepare the house for its makeover. Over the coming days the house became unrecognisable. There was an amazing sense of focus and drive towards the common goal – a reveal to Simon and his family on 23 November. Everything was new, donated by local business, trades, suppliers and individuals – from the wiring to the extension on the back. Generosity of the most amazing kind – if something was needed, it arrived on site.

I was asked to coordinate and set up a functional Smart Home for the family. A system established around the Amazon Echo, consisting smart lighting, plugs, and of course geo’s own Cosy heating system. The aim was to make life simpler for Simon’s wife and daughter, and add the little bit of luxury they deserve.

Aided by the team back at geo HQ, and particularly Allan Turpie, the installations went according to plan and integrated well into the fabric of the home. Not something the DIY SOS team had done before, it was clearly a journey of discovery for the crew and attracted much interest.

Leaving the house on the final build day, with Laurence Llewelyn Bowen’s very clear stamp on the design, I felt a real sense of pride for all those involved. The house is amazing, and ready to welcome home a family who never deserved to be left in this position. The reveal will undoubtedly show the importance of what most of us frankly take for granted.  But what it will show most of all, is that the world is in fact a pretty cool place when there is so much support for a family that very few involved know in person.  My personal thanks go to the team at geo for making it possible, and to each and every person directly and indirectly involved in a truly phenomenal act of kindness.