As a self storage company, our normal business is to provide storage space to people who need somewhere dry and safe to keep their belongings for any number of reasons. Additionally, we often help local charities by providing free storage space and promoting their causes. Every so often, though, we get the chance to do more, and a few months ago we were approached by the BBC to help with something really special. The BBC needed somewhere to store the contents of a house that they were going to transform as part of their DIY SOS series. If you haven’t seen it before, the DIY SOS team (led by Nick Knowles) clears and renovates the homes of people who really need help for one reason or another. We were more than happy to offer space at our New Southgate store but the more we learnt about that particular programme, the more we wanted to help.
PC Kris Aves and family
Almost a year ago, five people were killed and more than 50 injured in a terrorist attack at Westminster. One of the survivors is PC Kris Aves, a distinguished and decorated officer working for the Met; at the time of the attack, he was returning from being granted an award for his exceptional work as a police liaison officer. He was badly injured in the attack to the extent that he is now paralysed from the chest down.
Everyone, from his colleagues in the police force to the other dads at his children’s school, describe Kris as the life and soul of the party, a real people-person who loves to make others happy. During the Royal Wedding, for example, he entertained the waiting crowds in the Mall by getting everyone to do the YMCA, possibly calling on all his experience in his past life as an 18-30s rep!
Knowing what sort of person Kris is and learning about the impact that the attack had on him and his family, we could understand exactly why the BBC wanted to help this man and his family and we wanted to do everything we could to assist.
Adapting a house and transforming lives
Kris had been stuck in hospital for months because his house was not accessible for wheelchair users: amongst other problems, the door was too narrow and there was no bathroom on the ground floor. The house needed remodelling and adjusting so that Kris could come home and be a dad and husband again; quite aside from the physical trauma, the emotional impact of being apart from his family and missing out on ‘daddy time’ with his children can’t be overstated. His wife has endured months of worrying about her husband and coping with day-to-day life as a mum of two children as she was effectively thrust into the life of a single parent during his recovery. They needed their home back so that they could rebuild their family life, but they couldn’t do that on their own.
Nick Knowles and his team put out an appeal for help and they were inundated with responses from local tradespeople, police officers and local residents in the area of East Barnet. We were only too pleased to arrange for Marcus from Vantastic Removals Company
to pack and remove the contents of the house to store them at our New Southgate store for free, and then several of our team members volunteered to work on site, swelling the numbers of willing volunteers. We dug up and re-laid the drive, carted wheelbarrows of concrete, lifted sheds, stripped wallpaper, painted the walls and tidied the garden – basically did whatever we were told in order to help to make Kris’s house a home again. It was exhausting, but well worth it in the end!
We won’t spoil it with too much detail, but it was a really emotional reveal – you’ll need your tissues ready when you tune in – and Kris was delighted with his transformed home. He had so much to absorb, yet still managed to thank everyone in person, because he’s just that sort of man – we were all just happy to be able to give something back to someone who has given so much to our society. All the hard work was worth every minute of effort and every drop of sweat. You can see Kris’s reaction for yourself this week when the episode airs on Wednesday 7th March at 8pm on BBC1