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The Harrison family’s home in the DIY SOS Veteran’s Village

In 2016, the Harrison family were having a hard time. James (we’ve changed his name for privacy reasons) had recently left the army with full honours and then was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the entire family were victims of anti-social behaviour directly linked to his military service.

Luckily, the Royal British Legion were to secure an opening in a street… and things were looking much brighter.

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That street was Canada Street in Manchester – where Nick Knowles was busy rallying the DIY SOS Big Build team. It was their most ambitious project yet. Previous big builds involved adding an extension or renovating a home – not a whole street.

The vision was to take a run-down street and turn it into a happy place where veterans could support each other and live alongside non-veterans too. And with the help of a whole load of tradespeople and a pair of rather famous brothers, Prince William and Harry, that’s exactly what they did.

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“We moved in in November,” explains James. “Now, the street is completely occupied with both veterans and non-veterans. DIY SOS played a big part in the renovation, doing a large number of the houses opposite to us.”

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“Our house was renovated by the council in the same style. We were really lucky – our home is two houses knocked into one. When we moved in, we felt like the Borrowers! We didn’t have enough stuff to fill the space!

“As so much work has been done to our property, it’s been like moving into a new build. That means we have to wait a while before we can decorate. The plaster needs to settle.

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“But we’re dying to put our own stamp on the place. My partner wants to turn our living room into a cosy Highland retreat. We’re thinking chesterfield sofas and plenty of soft furnishings for a snug feel, but we’d like to wait until we can paint the walls too for the full effect.”

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One thing they could do to personalise the space though was to add blinds. And that’s where Web-Blinds leant a hand.

“We chose our blinds and were so excited for them to come. It was quite funny – they arrived when the DIY SOS team had closed the street for filming and were taken to the building office. So the DIY SOS team actually hand delivered our blinds – now that’s service!

“It’s such a friendly place – now it’s winter, people are in their homes a lot, but come summer, we’ve plans for BBQs in the middle of the street and other community events. It’s going to be lovely.

“We’ve moved around a lot with my military service, and now we have two young children, we’re keen for this to be our last. It’s really starting to feel like home.”

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