‘Northern Ireland at its best’

Hundreds of tradespeople and suppliers gave their time and materials as DIY SOS team takes just nine days to transform the lives of a Bangor family forever

The overwhelming generosity of hundreds of tradespeople and suppliers from across Northern Ireland has changed the lives of a North Down family forever.

For the first time in its 20-year history, the BBC’s DIY SOS programme visited Northern Ireland in June to transform the home of the McCreight family from Bangor. And the programme received one of its biggest-ever responses to their calls for help as the DIY SOS team completely reconfigured the McCreight’s home. With mum Mandy spending around 80 percent of her time in her bedroom due to health complications, the family spent large amounts of time apart despite living in the same house.

An emotional Mandy thanked every one of the tradespeople and suppliers after presenter Nick Knowles revealed their new home to the McCreights on Thursday June 27. Build Manager on DIY SOS, Mark Millar, who lived in Bangor 35 years ago before moving to England, explained that the programme generally receives around 300 offers of help per programme. In Northern Ireland they received over 850 offers of help from local tradespeople and suppliers. Presenter Nick Knowles described the nine-day build as an ‘extraordinary’ project.

“I have been so proud to work with the tradespeople and suppliers here,” said Nick. “The way the guys have gone about working has been amazing. For people to see this work for the family and for those who worked on the project – and I know many of them have got a lot out of it – it sends out a message all over the country that we are a group of islands full of good people who want to do good things.” Electrical Magazine spoke to a number of those who volunteered their time or materials for the DIY SOS Big Build.

Century Electrical supplied £1800 worth of goods for the project. Director Ross Hutchinson said it was a privilege for Century Electrical to be involved in such a worthwhile project. He also paid tribute to Lisburn branch manager, David McKibben who gave a lot of his time to ensure everyone had exactly what they needed for the job.

“A good customer of ours, Stephen Laverty had approached us about getting involved and we were only too happy to help. Stephen himself gave his own time for the project. This was Northern Ireland at its best.”

Century Electrical supplied cable, lighting, wiring accessories and the fuse board. Premier Electrics project- managed the electrical installation as well as carrying out testing and commissioning work. “This wasn’t a normal site to be working on. It was extremely busy but also very rewarding,” said Premier Electrics’ Robert McMath.

“It was initially my wife who had spotted a poster about the DIY SOS project, and when I brought it to Premier Electrics the answer was yes immediately, we wanted to be involved.

“When the money element of a job is removed it changes everything. The camaraderie was second-to-none, there were no fall-outs between trades. When we were waiting around we were helping joiners, labouring or digging holes – basically doing whatever needed to be done. And that was the approach everyone on the site had to making sure the job was completed.

DIY SOS Presenter, Jules Perryman paid tribute to everyone who helped out on the build. “I have been doing this job for 20 years now and I still get a good feeling when I see people giving up their time and materials to come in and help out a complete stranger when they need it most,” Jules told Electrical Magazine. “The response here in Bangor from the different trades and suppliers has been amazing. We have all said how friendly and nice the Irish have been – great people, lovely place.

“And the workmanship has also been very impressive.”