BBC One’s DIY SOS returns this week for a Children in Need special, with long-time host Nick Knowles heading to South Wales’ Caswell Bay to build a surf centre for Surfability – a school which teaches disabled children the joy of surfing.
While Knowles and his team are used to working with limited amounts of time in regular circumstances, building a state of the art surf centre during the coronavirus pandemic added an extra pressure to the project.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Knowles revealed that building a brand new surf school from scratch whilst dealing with COVID-19 regulations proved to be “super challenging”, as he explained how the effort was possible at all.
“To renovate a place is really difficult for us under the [COVID-19] rules because to get enough people, we usually get 100 people in a building to take it apart very quickly and we can’t do that but what we can do is build from scratch,” he said.
“So we basically went from a hole in the ground to a finished building in 9 days. Something that normally would take a building firm six months to do so it’s amazing in it’s own respect, but to do it under COVID regulations was super challenging.”
“Sort of like a human jigsaw, we had to put together where people came and did their work and left and immediately a new set went in and everybody was ready to go the moment they could step in and do the work,” he added. “And as usual we ran it pretty close to the wire, we were still doing things at like 6 o’clock in the morning on the day that we revealed it.”
Children in Need-funded charity Surfability was operating out of a disused bus shelter without running water or electricity before DIY SOS volunteered to help, but still managed to help over 500 people a year by teaching disabled children and young adults how to surf using adapted equipment.
On how the charity reacted when they saw the completed building, Knowles said: “They literally couldn’t believe it.”
“They had no idea what was possible and whilst they knew what we were doing vaguely, when this surf shaped building with changing rooms and hoists and drying rooms and reception, it’s just such an extraordinary thing, it puts them on the world map.”
“We’ve all experienced lockdown and are experiencing it again and it’s been massively tough. For a lot of people with disabilities, that’s their lives all the time,” he added. “So we’ve had a little taste of that, we have to make sure when we come out the other side, that we make sure everybody has access to be able to get out of their homes to be able to join in with things.”
“It’s one of the things that we’ve done that has most touched me and the team in doing it and a surfs centre, you go, why would you build a surf centre? You’ve got to watch the programme. If your life isn’t richer for watching this programme at the end of it, I’d be amazed.”
The Big Build – Children in Need Special airs Thursday 12th November at 8pm on BBC One. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.