A huge landscaping job to transform an overgrown back garden into a sanctuary for a youngster with a rare medical condition, as part of a DIY SOS-themed campaign, is well under way.
Helpers have offered their services over the last week to tackle the area at the rear of the Alnwick home that Aidan Jackowiak Smith’s parents have recently purchased.
The three-year-old boy has Cloves Syndrome – diagnosed in around 130 people worldwide – and suffers severe swelling to his face and body.
To help out his parents, Karl Smith and Vikki Jackowiak, transform their new property into a place suitable for Aidan, the Gazette teamed up with Alnwick-based MKM Building Supplies to launch the Aid For Aidan campaign.
The appeal was a rallying call to businesses, traders and residents to step up to the plate and help the cause.
The daunting task of overhauling the back garden was part of the major refurbishment, turning it from a jungle of vegetation to a tranquil zone for Aidan, complete with sensory area and decking.
Last week, a large part of the garden was cleared, with groundworks and tree surgery carried out by David Lowes Plant Hire and Richard Blackman Tree Services, both from Alnwick.
Yesterday, a hardy team of volunteers, including Sharon Mulcahy, Colin Potts and Aidan’s dad helped clear rubble and debris. Gazette gardening correspondent Tom Pattinson is overseeing the effort.
However, there is still work to be done on the garden and an appeal is being made for more helpers to come forward.
The so-called Aidan Days will be held on Wednesday and on Bank Holiday Sunday, August 24. Both take place at the house, at 1 Fire Station Cottages, from 10am.
But it isn’t just the outside that is taking shape. The inside of the property is also being dramatically transformed, progressing from the poor state it was in on purchase.
On Tuesday, volunteers Derek Moses, from Wooler, and Lee Forster, from Wallsend, did some work at the house. Aidan’s grandad, Alan Jackowiak, has also lent a hand recently.
Others to help include Tony Marshall, from M Marshall & Sons, in Shilbottle, who has carried out the first fix of plumbing and heating, while building and demolition work has been done by C McCann, from Wooler, S Willcox, of Shilbottle, and Storey & Edmunson, from Rothbury.
Alnwick-based Mossman & Co Developments have lent a hand to the first-fix joinery work, while Ross Athey, from Alnwick, and Willie Gibson, from Amble, with some help from Bamburgh’s James Swordy,have completed the first-fix electricals.
Neil Finlay, from Kitson Windows, Alnwick, has supplied and fitted a new French door and side disabled entrance frame.
Jimmy Little, from Christon Bank, been acting as project manager.
If anyone can lend a hand, including in the garden, call James Willoughby at the Gazette on 01665 602234, or Gordon Webster, at MKM, on 01665 606977.