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SERC Electricians Feature on DIY SOS

SERC Electrical Lecturers, Mark Kerr and Steven Donnelly (pre pandemic)

Two Electrical Lecturers from SERC (@S_ERC) with over 60 years’ experience between them, will feature in the popular @BBC One series DIYSOS: The Big Build at 9pm on Monday 22 February.  

Steven Donnelly, Electrical Lecturer and Mark Kerr, Electrical Lecturer and Technician, both based at the College’s Newtownards Campus, donated their skills and expertise in the build to transform an entire house for a local family. The programme, which was filmed in Bangor from 18 to 28 June 2019, contains scenes of camaraderie and social contact from a pre pandemic time to which we all long to return.

Steven said, “I have always been interested in how the projects come together.   Jobs featured on the show normally take 3 to 4 months but thorough teamwork and planning, the work is completed in 10 days”. He added, “The back story to the build is an inspiration and I was glad to be involved and to give my time to help the family.”

He added, “Bringing all the trades together at mealtimes, prepared by Dave and Andy from Delavision – unsung heroes, in my opinion – kept a fantastic team spirit going throughout the build. Many of us would be used to just eating in the van or disappearing to a fastfood outlet but keeping all of us together bolstered the infectious camaraderie which I personally have never experienced the like of on site before.  It meant that we all heard updates on our progress.

Mark said, “It really was a magical time, and we all made new friends and new contacts with fellow participants from trades involved in the show. 

“It was great to see all the BBC front of show team taking part in the build and I wouldn’t have believed that presenter Nick Knowles would be filling skips but there he was mucking in and doing what he could and in between he did some filming. 

“After filming, Billy Byrne, the BBC Electrician took some sightseeing trips into Belfast with me in the van and I also got to show him around SERC’s Newtownards Campus.  He was very impressed with the facility and the teaching that was taking place and said that he would love to return and meet some of the students – perhaps when things settle.

“Every day we had two sittings for lunch and evening meal and Bangor Football Club kindly offered their facilities so the DIY SOS Big Build Catering Team could prepare meals and they put on a delicious 3-course meal each time.   Tesco in Bangor also supported everyone by setting up a tent at the build to supply refreshments for participants throughout the day.

“After 9 days with everyone working from 8.00am to 9.00pm the job was complete, and the family returned home to their new reconfigured house that catered for all their needs. For all of us that was the tear-jerking moment when you realise deep down inside that you have made a difference to a family’s life who before the change were only existing and not living.

Mark added, “Taking part in the build was also great for my mental health. I suffered terrible anxiety and depression in the past, so it was a great way to feel needed and appreciated and I certainly contributed to my personal wellbeing by helping others in need.   Well done to everyone that took part and especial the DIYSOS Big Build Team for making friends with us all and even still staying in touch right up to the present day. 

The electricians who took part wanted to present Billy with a memento of the Build so Steven took a group photograph and organised everyone to sign it and Mark was asked to present it at the end of filming. 

This will be the first time the popular award-winning show has visited Bangor, hometown of Build Manager ‘Bangor boy’, Mark Millar. The build reconfigured an entire house, to include disabled friendly bedrooms, a wet-room with direct access for carers for Mandy and David Creighton and their family. Widened doors throughout and a new lift to access the first floor allows free movement of wheelchairs and ends isolation of each family member in their individual bedrooms. A redesigned wheel-chair friendly kitchen was needed for all and access to the garden brings health benefits to the whole family.

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