DIY SOS: Town so proud of its Children in Need heroes
An army of selfless heroes were today basking in the glory after the long-awaited DIY SOS revamp of a historic Blackpool building was aired to the nation.
The £1m renovation of Beaverbrooks House - the new home for Blackpool Carers Centre - was watched by millions on BBC1 last night.
It will be the new home for Blackpool Carers Centre.
Dozens of carers, volunteers and family members gathered at Beaverbrooks House to watch the broadcast last night while many more - including tradesmen who worked on the project for free - tuned in at Blackpool Cricket Club.
The show served as the big curtain raiser for this year’s Children in Need spectacular.
Blackpool Carers’ Centre is one of the groups supported by the annual charity appeal and its ambitious project was chosen out of hundreds for the DIY SOS treatment.
The hour-long show was a chance for young carers to tell their own stories and inspire others. They included 11-year-old Tyanna and 10-year-old Gracey who care for mother Suzanne, who suffers from osteoporosis.
She is hoping the show will raise the profile of children like hers, who give up their childhoods to care for a loved one.
Suzanne said: “It’s been very emotional and a little scary and exciting. As long as we raise the profile of what a young carer is and does I will be happy – as nobody knows. You would never know about my girls as they paint that beautiful smile on their faces.”
The project was only possible because the Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust purchased the semi-derelict building, formerly owned by the NHS but which had been stripped by thieves, for Blackpool Carers to move into.
The resulting renovation project was a mammoth undertaking and the team faced a month-long pause in work after realising it would never meet the tough two-week deadline. But the results are remarkable and a lasting legacy to the dedication of presenter Nick Knowles, designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, the team of ‘purple shirts’ and all the volunteers who gave their own time to turn a dream into reality.
Crowds cheered at Beaverbrooks House and Blackpool Cricket Club as they watched themselves in action as the stars of last night’s Children In Need.
Tyanna and Gracey, who live on St Annes Road, watched themselves on the big screen from the new carers centre on Newton Drive.
Highfield pupil Tyanna, 11, said: “My mum can’t move around that well. She can’t wash herself, she can’t cook or walk without support. We’re her carers so we wash her and tidy the house and things like that.
“The carers centre lets us take time off for a bit and just be kids. My mum can be sat down somewhere and I don’t have to worry about her, and I can go off and play.
“I think the new centre is really great and I’m amazed how they did it in such a short time.”
Gracey, 10, said: “I didn’t ever expect to see myself on TV. The carers centre helps us take a break from caring and you can just relax.”
Mum Suzanne said: “Now that it’s up and running it’s absolutely out of this world. In all my years working in education and social work and nursing, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Meanwhile, at Blackpool Cricket Club on West Park Drive, local builders and labourers who took part in the DIY SOS campaign to build the new centre also celebrated their success.