Work creating a community centre for disabled children is set to kick off a new TV series next week.
Viewers will be able to see the trials and tribulations of the work which went into transforming a rundown building at the Rising Sun Country Park in Benton into the state-of-the-art Tim Lamb Children’s Centre.
The centre, now used by charity Pathways4All as a base for providing stimulation and activities for children with disabilities, was transformed in four days thanks to a team from Channel 5’s Operation Homefront.
The construction team, led by former Royal Engineer Kev Godlington, transformed the centre last year, battling atrocious weather conditions to hit their target, and getting help from charity volunteers.
Lynn McManus, of Pathways4All, said: “I picked up an email from the producers saying they were looking for a project in the north east to benefit disabled kids to carry out a refurbishment.
“They came up and said they’d get involved in the refurbishment of the building. We gave them a blank canvas.
“We’ve been told we’re the first in the series as it was the biggest project they faced. It was unbelievable that they pulled it off. It was also quite emotional, with the back story behind it and it being as a tribute to Tim.
“At one point, there was 89 volunteers working to make sure they finished in time.”
She added: “I haven’t seen the finished show, I’ve got no idea what it’ll be like. I’m a little bit apprehensive at seeing myself on camera.”
The centre was formally opened last November, and Lynn said they would not have been able to hit their target date had it not been for the help from Kev and his team of ex-armed forces personnel, as well as the volunteers.
Once the restoration work had finished, Pathways 4 All were able to work on furnishing the centre, which includes a full-size play area.
It also features a sensory room, IT suite, cafe, creche, parents room, autistic chill out room, messy play and craft room, teenage zone, outdoor play ground, and a free play room for clubs, groups and birthday parties.
Lynn added: “The first eight months have been amazing. We are accessible to 800 children and have 300 families on our books, but we are also used by special schools and other organisations in the borough.”
Operation Homefront will be on Channel 5 at 8pm on Friday, August 30.