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Princess Anne’s Fathers Day Surprise

Princess Anne made a surprise visit to support and encourage dads who had given up their Fathers Day to help DIY SOS complete renovations to a paralysed dad’s home.

Despite the sweltering temperatures the men had gathered to pitch in, helping to refurbish the home of Ben Wernham and Ella Constable in Avening. Severely injured in a holiday pool fall last year, Ben has not been able to return home since last April but a happy ending is in sight as volunteers are on track to complete a second extension to his home by Thursday 22 June.

Volunteers from Best 4 Ben raised more than £100,000 in the initial appeal, which allowed for an extension to Ben and Ella’s home but now the BBC programme DIY SOS, fronted by Nick Knowles, is completing a second extension that will allow the couple and their children – Iris and Olivia – to finally come home.

The Princess Royal met with volunteers and members of the crew at the site, which is not far from her Gatcombe Park home, and spoke with carpenter and build manager Mark Millar about the project.

Mark told local reporters “the response has been amazing” and emphasized that “it’s the locals who do it, we’re just the catalyst”. The hard-working crew were forced to face sizzling temperatures but Mark was clear that though it did impact the crew, it never stopped them. “It has been so hot, so the energy levels drop, people get completely exhausted and get through gallons and gallons of water. We have had a lot of people working late at night – they just keep going.”

Volunteer Victor Trykush said that the family’s story had touched them all and though he did spend time with his children on Sunday morning he, like a lot of dads, were working all day. With children of their own, it’s no surprise that these dads were happy to work tirelessly to deliver Ben and Ella’s family a home that they could be a family just like any other in.

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