Bereaved 7-year-old girl gets dream home thanks to Solihull students

A seven-year-old girl left bereaved after her mum died has had her home virtually rebuilt – thanks to the help of Solihull students and BBC show DIY SOS: The Big Build.

Lucy Grafton and her parents Jess and Joe moved from London to the Midlands to start a new life, but were delivered a devastating blow when Jess was diagnosed with acute leukaemia and quickly developed septicaemia.

Just two days after the diagnosis, Jess sadly died aged 39 – leaving Joe raising daughter Lucy alone and unable to cope with completing their half-renovated home.

The family were nominated to appear on the TV show, in which a team of experts and volunteers make over the homes of those in need.

Construction students from Solihull College & University Centre were among those to answer the call to help.

The plastering students – including Daniel Austin, Shaun Smyth, Paul Burke and David Lynch – assisted the show’s Julian Perryman with the plasterboard and skimming of an upstairs bedroom, hacking off old materials and boarding the living room.

They also used their time to help other tradesman to load out and increase productivity of the job. Julian was said to have been shocked that it was the first time some of the students had worked on-site and they conducted themselves brilliantly.

The students, who were joined by their lecturers Joe Farrell and Thomas Clarke, toiled for up to 13 hours each day on the nine-day project.

After filming finished, the students and their tutors joined the crew and show presenter Nick Knowles to celebrate at the Craven Arms pub in Shropshire.

Phil Paddock, of Solihull College & University Centre, said: “I am so proud that the construction department supported such wonderful project.

“It has provided our learners with some exceptional work experience and we have all been humbled by their experience.”

Student Shaun Smyth added: “Going on the TV show was a great experience and I was able to work with other tradesmen and see how a real site works.

“It was good to meet Nick and the others from the show, while it is fantastic to know Joe and Lucy now have a home they can share.

“It is amazing how much can get done in the short space of time with everyone’s help. It is definitely an experience I will never forget.”

The college also donated a bike for Lucy.

When the young girl and her dad were shown their new home, they broke down in tears.

Joe, a 44-year-old former firefighter, told the 100 people who volunteered to help: “I am completely overwhelmed. I want to thanks everyone who has turned it around for me and Lucy.

“I am saying to people here that when they you go home tonight go up to the people they love, cuddle them and tell them they love them with every bone in their body.”

Picture: Lucy with her dad Joe and students from Solihull College & University Centre.

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