Inspired by shows such as DIY SOS, where Nick Knowles and his team issue a call to arms to recruit friends, family and local trades folk to help transform the homes of families across the country.

Mark Palmer-Broughton, the third-place winner of the 2022 Plant Operator of the Year competition, was happy recently to lend his support to a local, private initiative…this is Reubens story.

Reuben was born 6 weeks premature, through a C-section and was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, the moment he came into the world; Hydrocephalus is fluid on the brain due to oxygen being starved whilst in the womb.

Reuben had two brain operations, all to help him survive. In total and to date, he has had nine further operations, all to help with his complex needs. These include cerebral palsy of all four limbs, being blind, global development delay, dystonia and an unsafe swallow.

Reuben is peg fed with a feeding tube and pump and has had epilepsy, which is now under control. Reuban is non-verbal due to the global development delay, communicating only by baby noises.
Ruben’s family moved into a bungalow in 2017, when Reuben was two and half years old. The bungalow was excellent to cater for Reuben’s needs, as clearly it was all on ground level and was perfect to move around in his wheelchair.

As Reuben got older, his needs were changing, and an adapted bathroom was required, with hoists and much larger equipment to help with day-to-day life.

The Dream Move.

As the country came out of the second lockdown, the family realised they needed a bigger area in the bungalow, to cater for Reuben’s ever growing needs. Alas, building regulations prevented the restructure and renovation of the bungalow, so a new home was now the only option.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council were approached, as the family entered the home bid system which enabled a house swap, with the outcome that the Boyd family had a property they could develop.

In May of 2022, 5 months prior to the family moving in, a meeting was organised with Trevor Lee, from the ‘Teddy Bear Run’ at a children’s birthday party for one of Reuben’s classmates.
Trevor wanted to know more about Reuben’s diagnosis, in conversation with mum Polly, Trevor asked how the charity could help with Reuben’s day to day to life. Polly explained about the new house and how frustrating the limited access to the garden was.

Trevor visited the family a few weeks later to view the garden and to discuss the options such as access ramps to the outdoors, fresh air and the sunshine.
The family were delighted that Trevor kept in regular contact, as Reuben had corrective surgery on his foot after bending and distorting occurred from the cerebral palsy.

It’s Christmas Time

In early December 2022, The Teddy Bear Runners came to see Reuben. At this time there was the first inkling of what the charity was considering. Nothing was set in stone, but the family were getting excited. A date of Jan 20th was set…It was happening.

So, the date of the DIY conversion was set. Ahead of this there was pre-site visit from Mr Grimes of DG construction. Dean confirmed that the family was in fact to receive a full garden refurbishment, all to help to give Reuben the access needed to the garden, from off the street and from the back door of the house.

Swing High.

Many volunteers that included plant operator Mark Palmer-Broughton, helped transform the garden. A garden space that was un-even and not wheelchair friendly, was to be converted into something truly amazing, all to help Reuben access his garden, access his hydrotherapy hot tub sessions, and access his sensory flower bed to touch and smell the many differing plants. A specially adapted swing was installed so Reuben, like his able bodied 7-year-old friends, could have some fun, enjoy life and feel included when his family and friends are at the house and in the garden.

Changing Lives and Making Memories.

Mark Palmer-Broughton was described by all that helped as an inspiration, by keeping spirits up as the JCB mini-excavator, from Travis Perkins Tool Hire did the heavy lifting and shifting. A JCB 1-tonne Hi-Tip dumper provided the ability to move the spoil to the skip, with a Bomag plate compactor and Belle mini-mixer supporting the contractor collective.

The ground was cleared, levelled and turfed, raised borders were installed, a patio laid, new fencing erected, and a swing built, all in less than three days, all by a team of volunteers who gave up their time and utilised their skills, to help give Reuben a better quality of life and another chapter in Reuben’s story.

To the many that helped the Boyd family they as UK Plant Operators do, send their thanks.

DG Construction Group, Kennett Landscaping, Blaze Construction, David Wilson Homes, Ripton Windows, Wickes, Travis Perkins Tool Hire, Jon Mott & Son Fencing, Calleva Electrical, City Electrical Factors, R Collins Environmental, Biosite Security Apsley Farms and of course, On Your Marks Plant Hire.