Ex-soldier Stuart on a DIY mission

Nick Knowles, presenter of DIY SOS with volunteers including Stuart James (second left behind) on the site of the veterans village in East Manchester.
Nick Knowles, presenter of DIY SOS with volunteers including Stuart James (second left behind) on the site of the veterans village in East Manchester.
0
Have your say

A Blackpool ex-soldier is among volunteers who answered the call to arms when a TV show took on its biggest challenge yet.

Stuart James, of Cumberland Avenue, is part of the team transforming a derelict street in East Manchester into new homes and a support centre for war veterans.

The project has been taken on by the BBC’s DIY SOS show and will be screened next month.

Dad-of-two Stuart, 42, has been working 12-hour days for nearly two weeks as volunteers share their skills to get the scheme finished on time.

He served for 24 years in the Royal Engineers and is now a commercial diver working in the offshore industry.

Stuart said: “Everyone learns a trade in the Royal Engineers and I came out as a brick-layer and concreter.

“One of my friends gave me a call about the project and I said yes straightaway. For me and the rest of the guys it is an opportunity to give some free work as tradesmen to a great cause.

“We have been working from about 8am until 8pm each day, with each team assigned a house which has about 20 different tradesmen working on it.

“We have totally gutted the houses back to their bare walls and are then rebuilding them.

“There will be bespoke homes for ex-soldiers who have lost limbs, or who have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

“I am fortunate enough that I came out of the army with a good networking base of ex-military friends, but some lads don’t have that opportunity and have fallen on hard times.”

The project, led by DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles and his team, is a first-of-its-kind partnership which has brought the show together with Manchester City Council; charities Walking With The Wounded and Haig Housing; and Adactus Housing Groups.

Yesterday it also got the royal seal of approval with a visit from Princes Harry and William.

Nick Knowles says: “This time we are doing up five properties and building a support centre as well as doing up the front of two streets. Thanks to the massive support of our partners and the building trade - which continues to amaze us - we might just do it.

“It’s certainly for a fantastic cause as these veterans have given so much.”