Design guru Laurence Llewelyn Bowen has revealed he’s on a personal mission with Blackpool’s DIY SOS Big Build for Children in Need.
The TV star’s mother was diagnosed with MS when he was young and he knows only too well the difference the project – to transform two Victorian villas into a special Young Carers Centre – can make.
Laurence wants to give young carers an experience completely different from their own lives.
“It’s very relevant to my own upbringing,” said Laurence, who has delayed work for his own company in Malaysia to lead the design team on the project for Blackpool Carers.
“I was not a young carer like these incredible people, but my mother was diagnosed with MS when I was young.
“My childhood was overshadowed by the same issues these young people are facing.
“I can recognise the stress and the anxiety they feel.”
Laurence can’t give away many details of the designs currently being put in place at Blenheim House in Newton Drive, where an army of volunteers from the Fylde coast and beyond are labouring on the 10-day TV build.
But the designer, who made his name on the hit 1990s show Changing Rooms, made it clear he wants to create a space that will both reward the carers who will use it and whisk them into another world.
He said: “I do not want this to be a patronising pity party.
“Each one of these young carers does an extraordinary thing.
“This is a celebration of what they achieve.
“They don’t complain, they just get on with their lives.
“They do something exceptional every day but ask for nothing in return.
“This is for them.
“People’s reaction to my situation was the biggest thing.
“Young carers face it too.
“They do not want that visibility, they just want to get on with things.”
And Laurence is keen to draw on his own world to transform the carers’ lives.
He said:“I’m lucky to have travelled around the world and experienced so many things.
“I want to bring a flavour of that, something completely different from their day-to-day lives.
“This is a residential building, so I want to create the feel like a hotel lobby – to be very boutique in its feel.
“One of the things you don’t get as a young carer is to travel.
“I can take my experiences – clubs in New York, places in Malaysia and China and create a fantastic product.”
The DIY SOS build is due to be finished next Friday and the programme will be screened in mid-November.