DIY SOS begin work on Huntingdon family’s home

SUPER mum Julie Jones’ wish for “a bit of help” has come dramatically true – with the DIY SOS team due to start radically refurbishing her Huntingdon home today (Wednesday).

Single mum-of-three Julie, 46, was named Tesco Mum of the Year in January after selflessly taking in her best friend’s five orphaned children.

At the time, she accepted her award modestly but said it was not a time for celebrating, recognising the tragic circumstances that led her to be nominated for the prestigious award.

Speaking to The Hunts Post after collecting her award, she said: “The only thing we wish for is a bit of help.”

Now, Julie and her extended family have temporarily left their home in Rydal Close, Stukeley Meadows, and handed it over to the prime-time BBC One show’s presenter, Nick Knowles, and the team of builders and designers that plans to extend and reconfigure the three-bedroom property.

Julie said: “It’s a huge compliment that the people closest to me and 500 other people have seen fit to put us through for this as a family. I have got to be very thankful to all these wonderful people who have done this for the children.

“This is not about me: this is all about the children. They need space to live and grow. They need to be able to play, to have space to lay out their games.”

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The ‘Big Build’ is scheduled to take nine days and will involve a massive team of volunteers, businesses and tradesmen from Huntingdonshire, as well as show favourites Mark Millar, Julian Perryman, Chris Frediani and Billy Byrne.

She added: “They haven’t told me any details: it’s going to be a huge surprise. It’s going to be wonderful. The children are excited – they want space to have friends over for tea and sleepovers and parties.”

Julie started caring for the five children – Michael, Kieran, James, Emma and Chantelle – following the deaths of their parents, Caroline and David Atkin, who lived in Lincolnshire.

Caroline was Julie’s best friend of 30 years, but was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in April 2009 and given 12 months to live. Julie stepped in to help David care for the children at their home in Lincolnshire, but tragedy struck again in January 2010 when he died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage.

Caroline died in June 2010.

Julie, who works at RAF Brampton, brought the children to live with her in Huntingdon., converting her dining room into a bedroom for her own three sons, Christian, Peter and Adam.

Reflecting on the tragic twist of fate that has led her to this, Julie said: “We have made the best of an absolutely heartbreaking situation, surrounded by the most wonderful family and friends. We have done it as a team.

“We have had nearly two years of big changes and this is another one. Hopefully, after this, everything will start to calm down and we can live quietly, and the children can have the life they deserve.”