Solihull College students take part in TV’s DIY SOS

Students and lecturers from Solihull College meet with the DIY SOS team

Students and lecturers from Solihull College meet with the DIY SOS team

Solihull College & University Centre’s construction students showed off the skills they had learned when they took part in the BBC’s long running TV programme DIY SOS: The Big Build.

The plastering students volunteered their time and expertise to a family in Shropshire who were in need of support.

The Grafton family looked to the programme to improve their home after moving from London to Hopesay in the Shropshire Hills.

The family received the shocking news that mum Jess had acute leukaemia and septicaemia and just two days after her diagnosis she sadly died, leaving dad Joe to look after the couple’s daughter Lucy, aged seven.

Aside from the devastating emotional aspect, Joe also had more practical matters to attend to – finishing the renovations on the home they had moved to.

Lecturer at Solihull College & University Centre Carl Pedley had approached the makers of DIY SOS offering support in any upcoming shows.

He noticed the programme had a new-build coming up and was informed the show would require some plasterers to help with the new-build.

The Solihull students jumped at the opportunity to help the family and also gain some valuable work experience on a real-life building site.

The level 2 plastering students, including Daniel Austin, Shaun Smyth, Paul Burke and David Lynch, assisted the show’s Julian Perryman with the plasterboard and skimming of an upstairs bedroom, hacking off old materials and boarding the living room. They also used their time to assist the other tradesman on the project.

Carl said Julian was shocked to discover it was the first time some of the students had worked on-site due to the fact they conducted themselves so well.

Lecturers Joe Farrell and Thomas Clarke supported the students in delivering the project.

The team set off from the college’s Woodlands Campus in Chelmsley Wood at 6am each morning, getting home at 6.30pm each night, with Joe Farrell driving for four hours each day as well as working an eight-hour shift.

After nine days of hard work the house was completed and the Grafton family were delighted with their new home.

The tutors and students were invited to attend a thank you evening at the Craven Arms in Shropshire and presenter Nick Knowles paid tribute to their skills and thanked them for their help.

Phil Paddock, programme manager for construction at Solihull College & University Centre, said: “I am so proud that the construction department has supported such wonderful project, it has provided our learners with some exceptional work and experience and we have been humbled by the experience.”

Student Shaun Smyth added: “Going on DIY SOS was a great experience and I was able to work with other tradesmen and see how a real site works.

“It was good to meet Nick and the others from the show. Joe and Lucy now have a home they can share. “It is amazing how much can get done in the short space of time with everyone’s help. It is definitely something to be remembered.”