Staff and learners from Myerscough College have played their part in the redevelopment of a Blackpool Children’s Centre for the BBC programme, DIY SOS – The Big Build.
A Myerscough team joined other tradesmen to give their time and skills free of charge to complete the challenge of renovating the Blenheim House site on the Fylde coast. The building has been transformed from a run-down, neglected Victorian house, to a fun, safe and supportive environment where young carers are able to enjoy their childhood. The transformation will be documented in ‘DIY SOS: The Big Build’, a BBC Children in Need special, when the show airs on BBC One in mid-November.
The staff and students, including volunteers from Myerscough's Blsborrow and Witton Park campuses, as well as apprentices, were tasked with helping to transform and landscape an acre of the garden, undertaking work including ground clearance, landscaping and planting in the gardens and new play area.
Myerscough College work-based tutor, Oliver Clarke, was also personally asked to build a special dry stone wall in the grounds, giving up several extra days of his time and expertise to further benefit the project. Oliver spent ten days in total on the site, undertaking some very long shifts to ensure that this part of the project was completed in time.
Myerscough volunteers were also responsible for driving the many workers to and from the site in a College minibus.
The property is owned by Blackpool Carers Centre, a charity which receives BBC Children in Need funding to provide out-of-school respite and training activities as well as peer support for more than a hundred children and young people with caring responsibilities.
Two of the Myerscough College learners who helped with the project Alex Brobbin, 20, and Ryan Turner, 18, who are both apprentices in horticulture. They both work on grounds maintenance around the borough of South Ribble and took time out of their usual duties to assist on the build.
Ryan said: “It’s great fun and really good experience to work with different people. We were on site for three days and basically started by clearing the gardens of brambles and weeds in preparation for the transformation work to begin.”
Bernard Pendleton, Director of Student Support at Myerscough College, said: ‘’It really is a fantastic, amazing project and we’ve met some amazing people. Huge thanks to all of our Myerscough volunteers for their efforts.
''We even had a visit from Pudsey bear and he thought we’d done a good job!’’
Presenter, Nick Knowles, said: “We’re aware this build is one of our most ambitious to date but with the help over 250 locals joining us to help change the lives of young carers in Blackpool we’ve been overwhelmed with support to provide a new centre that will bring joy to some of the most deserving children and young people in the community.”
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, designer, added: “I’m delighted to be part of this project. Making sure these selfless children and young people are provided with a safe space to embrace their childhood is such an important cause.”
Michelle Smith, CEO at Blackpool Carers Centre, said:“We were delighted when BBC Children in Need contacted us about potentially having our property renovated and ever since the DIY SOS team confirmed they would be coming to Blenheim House we haven’t been able to contain our excitement.
''Thank you to all of the locals who have helped with the build, their support has been incredible.’’
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by Dave Salmon