RAF Regiment Gunners Volunteer in BBC D.I.Y SOS

Back in 2017 RAF Regiment gunners from RAF Honington and RAF Marham spent 2 weeks working in secret with the BBC DIY SOS team converting the house of ex RAF Regiment gunner Simon ‘Dobbo’ Dobbins.

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Simon left the RAF in 1999 and settled into family life with his wife and daughter in nearby Mildenhall. Sadly in 2015 Simon, who is an avid supporter of Cambridge Utd football team, was the victim of a ferocious attack after an away match in Southend. The attack left him with permanent brain damage and unable to walk or talk.

When Simon came home after a long period in hospital it was clear that their house was totally unsuitable to meet Simon’s needs, he had no privacy and had to be transported to the local leisure centre to take a shower!

The BBC DIY SOS team put out a calling notice for volunteers and Flight Sergeant Clive Morris, RAF Honington, Sergeant Matt Scott, 2620 Squadron RAuxAF Regiment Squadron, RAF Marham and Corporal Mike Brewster, 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, RAF Honington were first in the queue offering their services. They were joined by local tradesmen, suppliers and the community to specially adapt the 45-year-old's home. More than 900 people applied to be involved in the build, even though only 250 to 300 people were needed

For 9 days over one-hundred people worked on their home to build a downstairs extension, with all the bespoke care provision Simon needs which included a bedroom, physio space, wet room, social space and the ability to access the entire ground floor and back garden in his wheelchair

"Mildenhall has been absolutely incredible. I've been working with the family for the past year, I know how difficult it has been for them. He added: “When you see the show, you will be gobsmacked”

Mark Millar
DIY SOS Project Manager

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‘I was honoured to help with the build, the camaraderie between the team of volunteers is awesome.

“I served with Dobbo so it was a no-brainer that the Regiment lads wanted to be involved.”

Flight Sergeant Clive Morris

Nicole Dobbin, Simon's wife and full-time carer, said:

"It's been absolutely crazy, all these people coming to help us and transform our house into a home that's now fit to meet Simon's needs. It's amazing, totally amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing."

"With Simon's case, you've seen the best and worst of humanity

"You saw the senselessness of the initial attack which has given him a life sentence himself and indeed for his wife who has gone from wife to a carer, and for his daughter who is never going to be able to walk down the beach with her father the way she used to all the time. But then you see the best of humanity, by seeing the whole community rallying around to try to make a difference.”

Nick Knowles

The refurbished home was revealed to Nicole and Emily on Thursday 23 November but we won’t see the renovation until the show airs next year. A spokesman from the DIY SOS show said:

"DIY SOS anticipates that Simon Dobbin's episode that features hundreds of lovely local volunteers, will broadcast in late 2018 on prime time BBC One”

Nicole later posted a personal message on Facebook to all the volunteers expressing her thanks for brightening up the dark days that the family have had to live with since the attack. Each and everyone one of the volunteers has changed their lives for the better and given Simon some normality. Both Nicole and Emily said they will be forever grateful.

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