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Carpenter takes on heart-warming challenge in front of TV cameras

A big-hearted carpenter from Horsham gave up some of his spare time to help a disabled boy as part of a national TV show.

From Press releases - 5 June 2015 12:00 AM

DIY SOS.jpg

A big-hearted carpenter from Horsham gave up some of his spare time to help a disabled boy as part of a national TV show.

Jon Hill-Upperton, 28, of Arun Way, a contractor in UK Power Networks’ facilities team, put his skills to good use as part of DIY SOS, screened Wednesday (June 3) on BBC One.

Jon said: “When I’ve seen the programme on TV I’ve thought that I would be able to help out with my skills. My mum died of pneumonia when I was 13 and so when I found out this lad’s problems included that condition I felt it was right to get involved.

“I know how hard it is for families to care for somebody with a long-term illness so I have great empathy with the people we helped.”

He completed five shifts on the project to add an extension to a family home in Longfield, Kent, in November, using carpentry qualifications gained only last year. He has worked at the electricity company’s Hazelwick Avenue offices in Three Bridges, Crawley, for six years.

Jon said: “There were some jobs I did that a general labourer could have done, such as laying concrete. But I also got to fit door linings, box in water pipes, build stud walls and some general carpentry. The only thing I wanted to gain from the project for myself was experience of working on a building site and I certainly got that – at times there were 50 of us converting the house at one time!”

DIY SOS is the BBC’s flagship DIY show which attracts millions of viewers in its prime-time slot on BBC One. Presented by Nick Knowles, the show features ambitious building projects to help deserving families.

Jenny and Scott Watts wanted to help their disabled son Charlie, 13, at home. The programme’s team took the Watts’ existing plans to build two bedrooms and a wet room for bathing in a single-storey extension wrapping around the house. That freed up the attic to be made into a more substantial bedroom for one brother and allow the other to move into their parents’ old room. Charlie’s small bedroom was turned into a family bathroom. Access was improved and storage space for Charlie’s kit was created.

Jon said: “Despite the seriousness of Charlie’s situation, it was a light-hearted atmosphere on site and we all pulled together. We were all there to help others so there were no egos to worry about. Some people get a real kick out of it and have been involved in several programme projects. Now I’m on their list I wouldn’t mind doing another one – it’s so rewarding.

“We got to meet the family on what is called the reveal day – when they see what we have done to their home. They were so grateful for our efforts – the conversion will make all their lives so much easier.”

UK Power Networks encourages staff to spend two days of paid work time each year volunteering in the community, although Jon also spent his own holiday and weekend working on the project.