There’s a sea of hard hats outside and rivers of tears within.
It’s as well as there’s no water feature outside – although if there was we couldn’t confirm its existence until the BIGGEST reveal of all.
That’s when the DIY SOS Big Build for BBC Children in Need (working title, etc) is aired. In November.
And it stars Blackpool Carers Centre.
Correction, it stars their young carers, their supporters, and 250 volunteers – not to mention scores more – who supplied time, effort, services, supplies and sheer hard graft to turn a battered old building into a thing of beauty and a lasting legacy to goodwill and generosity of spirit and, to put not too fine a point on it, love.
All free of charge incidentally, while giving up their own earnings to do so, in most cases. Many staying in hotels and guesthouses. Some sleeping in their own vans nearby. All forming firm friendships, some of which have endured from previous DIY SOS projects, others newcomers to an extended family.
And that extended family is now Blackpool Carers Centre’s own. It has reached out and wrapped them in a warm embrace – on this the day of day for hugs from strangers who have become friends – and presented them with a building money simply couldn’t buy.
How many posh hotels or bespoke boutique frippery eateries would have Nick Knowles on the door as MC-turned-concierge, or Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen adding such highly distinctive flair to designs?
How many would have gardens turned into paradise on earth out of domestic-jungle by another Laurence, this time Mitchell, all the way from Devon, at some cost, it has to be said, to his wedding anniversary celebrations, and returning – just having got back from those celebrations – to Heathrow, and from London back to Blackpool for the Big Reveal this week.
All three of them- and the most awesome build manager Mark Millar – backed by a great crew …and an army of volunteers recruited from a standing start just a few weeks ago.
These tradesmen and women – and others who just wanted to be part of it all regardless of what they were asked to do – came from far and wide. A lot from the North West – particularly with the TV team’s veterans build on the doorstep in Manchester – but right across Britain. And, of course, Blackpool and the Fylde.
They came, they saw, they plastered, they carved, they weeded, they painted, they decorated, they built, they installed – they just bespoke the ‘bloody lot’ as one confirmed. Some had callouses on their hands from the hard work. Others were amazed they hadn’t got trench foot, given the torrential rain.
And the sun certainly shone on the righteous for a big reveal which had been put back given the scale of the challenge – even if it threw in a thunder storm and a power cut that must have coloured the air blue rather than purple just hours earlier.
And many openly wept as the kids – young carers who look after brothers or sisters or mums or dads or grans – ran up that path, the new path created leading to the most fabulous terrace and veranda, and stormed the building. Right past Nick, right under the mic, ignoring the cameras.
“We’re in” they cried. “We’re so excited,” said another. “Emosh!”
And they swept over every inch inside and out, bar the offices above which remain to be made over by the charity. (And bear in mind the charity just invited DIY SOS in to make over the adjacent annexe…) The children were an unstoppable force and their joy in each fresh discovery brought tears to the eyes of hardened hard hat wearers – even more so when they were presented with ‘thank you’ cards the kids had made. “I don’t just like it, I LOVE it,” said one 10 year old boy who looks after his mum, who has type one diabetes.
In the midst of the Pudsey ear clad workforce, one local mum – a carer herself who turned up to help out – looked up at the window of one of the rooms above and said: “My son was diagnosed with severe autism there… I’ve buried a few ghosts with this.”
For the former Blenheim House was an NHS child development service which touched many lives until it came up for sale and was given to the charity by Beaverbrooks charitable trust.
“I’d associated it with that day – until now,” she added.
There’s so much more to be said, but – let the pictures tell the story. The charity will be hosting an Open Weekend on 12-14 August and a ‘Purple’ Charity Ball in honour of DIY SOS on 28 January, as well as lots of things betwixt and beyond.
For more information call Kay on (01253) 393748, follow us on Twitter @BlackpoolCarers or Facebook BlackpoolCarers
We now have an unbelievable space from which to deliver our services and make ‘A Better Life for Carers’, however we still need to fundraise to provide a programme of respite activities for our carers, so Donations are always welcome.
We are also looking for businesses or organisations that can help us with the maintenance and upkeep of the building to ensure it is kept looking its best for years to come. Please contact Kay Soper on 01253 393748 or email kay.soper@blackpoolcarers – thank you.