DIY SOS: The Big Build


We take our corporate social responsibility seriously here at Corserv. You only need to look at the amount of volunteering staff across the group undertake, or the community events we organise and get involved in.

So, when we heard that the BBC’s hit show DIY SOS: The Big Build was in Cornwall and was looking for help with a project in Carbis Bay, near St Ives, well, you can guess what happened next.

While the project has been supported with materials and logistics from across the group – and indeed the county – our people couldn’t pass up the chance to get involved personally. One, especially, ended up being more involved than she’d bargained for.

Jacqui Owen from Cormac’s Landscape team explains, “We’d met with the team a couple of weeks before the work began and as they didn’t have a design for the garden, we offered to put one together as design and installation is what our team do. I turned up on site on the first day expecting to hand it over to Jules from the show who usually oversees the outdoor work, but when we arrived, I was told he couldn’t make it and they had nominated me as the new Jules!”, referring to the show’s Julian Perryman. Despite initially thinking it was a wind up, Jacqui happily stepped in to oversee the build of the garden.

She admits, “When we started I just wanted to get in with the team, avoid the camera and provide the best possible outdoor space we could for this fantastic family. ”However, instead of avoiding the filming Jacqui found herself having to explain on camera what they were doing stage by stage. “The crew were lovely, but I can’t think of anything worse than my face on camera.”

Despite this, she was delighted to be involved. “It’s amazing how it all comes together. It’s intense, working for between 12-14 hours a day for ten days straight, but it’s such an inspirational environment, with so many people getting involved by giving up their time and resources. The generosity of the suppliers and other trades that helped us create the garden is just incredible.” Two local nurseries, Trevena Cross and Hayle Plants donated all the plants and sundries used without hesitation to help create a low maintenance subtropical paradise for the family to both relax and play in.

“The garden presented its challenges.” Jacqui continued. “The test pits we’d dug revealed a claggy clay soil, which is not great for the plants to grow in. We’d brought along compost and grit to incorporate in to open up the soil structure, but when we came to plant it was actually made up of granite, tarmac, rubble and even an old sink. We had to dig down over a metre and remove this to create new planting beds filled with quality topsoil and compost that had been donated before we could start to get the plants in. The camaraderie on the site was incredible, lots of laughter and good humour. Everyone was focused on giving Lyn, Steve and the boys the best home, inside and out, that they possibly could. As soon as we came across a problem, someone would appear that could fix it. At one point we hit concrete that we would have taken us hours to dig out by hand, but no sooner had we found it, then one of the other trades appeared with a mechanical breaker and sorted the problem. It was fantastic.”

Jacqui added, “I’m so proud of our Cormac team, as well as all the other trades and volunteers that pulled together to create this garden. Being surrounded by a beautiful outdoor environment is equally important for health and well-being as the indoor space. I hope it gives the family all that they needed from their garden and allows them to have quality time together making lots happy memories.”

Thank you to all the individuals who helped with the build:

Cormac Solutions
Horticultural team who created the gardens:
Jacqui Owen - Community Engagement Officer, Landscape Team, Scorrier
Chris Bassett - Chargehand 3, Newtown
Gary Cook - Operative 1, St Ives
Cohen Saunders - Operative 1, Penryn
David Kernohow - Chargehand 1, St Ives
Neil Jackson - Chargehand 1, Penzance
Joe Palmese - Head Gardener, Morrab Gardens, Penzance
Gary Hocking - Operative 1, Penzance
Reuven Hampshire - Chargehand 1, Penryn
Nathan Mullin - Operative 1, Penzance
Becky Pack - Chargehand,1 Falmouth
Ben Cooper-Kinnard. - Apprentice, Falmouth
Ben Watts - Apprentice, Falmouth
Maureen Rolfe - Seasonal, Redruth
Laura Darrick-Lassey. - Operative 1, Falmouth

Cornwall Housing

The team who assisted to make sure the build was in-line with local covenants: Dave Whiteford – Mason, Adam Bennet - Mason, Clive Peachey – Site Supervisor and Perry Thomas – Mason.

Newquay Airport
Rob Thomas - Firefighter
Rob was an integral part of the whole build, driving the telehandler, mini digger and dumper, ensuring that everyone had the materials they needed, when they needed them. Rob was there before everyone else at the beginning of the day and stayed after everyone else ensuring that everything was ready for the next stage the following day. His willingness to help and ‘can do’ attitude was a real credit to him and Corserv. We could not have done this build without him!

Thank you.

Cormac Diy Sos

Cormac Diy Sos background

Cormac Diy Sos

Cormac Diy Sos the team