Hundreds of local tradesmen and volunteers started work on Tuesday to transform the Mildenhall home of Simon Dobbin, hoping to help deliver the care he needs after an unprovoked attack by a gang of thugs left him with permanent brain damage.
The BBC’s DIY SOS: The Big Build will spend nine days working on the refurbishment of the Dobbin’s family home in Peterhouse Close and the volunteers, led by presenter Nick Knowles and the programme’s regular team, including designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, are hoping their work can change the Dobbin family’s lives.
Since Simon came home from hospital, his wife Nicole has been his full-time carer helped by their daughter, sixth form student Emily.
His hospital bed was set up in the dining room of their home and he was unable to access the bathroom.
As work started on Tuesday, programme presenter Nick Knowles said: “The story is just horrific. Three lives have changed here. Nicole has changed from a wife to a carer overnight. Emily has started to change what she wants from her education and career because she doesn’t want to leave mum alone.
“If we can build a house here that suits their needs and make life easier for them then it means that Emily can get on with her career and it will be easier for Nicole to look after Simon.
“The community response has been extraordinary. There were 900 more people who wanted to take part in this than we could accept. The response has been absolutely massive."
Simon’s wife, Nicole, said: “It’s amazing. I’m a bit speechless but we are so grateful. At the moment Simon is in the dining room which was curtained off. Giving him his own room will give him privacy back. The work will help give Simon some movement back in his life. After the work we hope that we will be able to enjoy evenings in the house like we did before,” said Nicole.
During the rebuild the 350-strong work force will transform the ground floor, building Simon an accessible bedroom and wet room, a physio space and wheelchair access to the ground floor and garden.
The family will not see the house now until the work is complete.
Ryan Bloor, managing director of Cambs Glass, which is helping with the project, said: “It’s something close to all of us at the company and we wanted to do anything we could to help. As soon as I saw the advert for help I said we have to do it. It’s a personal mission for us.”
The sponsors of Cambridge United’s Abbey stadium have ten staff working on the project and have cut production for two days to make sure that the large bifolding doors and windows are ready for the house.
“It’s 100 per cent worth it for this cause. We have really close ties to the football club so its a case of giving back. We want to do a good deed to help somebody who is in a horrible position.”