DIY SOS The Big Build – Sheppey

22nd September 2016

On Saturday 18th September I travelled to Sheppey to photograph the wonderful Radcliffe family for DIY SOS The Big Build‘s latest project.

When I saw a notice on Facebook a few weeks ago that they were working in Kent I contacted the programme to offer my services.

We’re big fans of the programme in our house and I’ve always wanted to be involved in their amazing projects but building houses or plastering walls is not in my skill set! I often commented to my hubby that it would be lovely for the family to have a professional shoot and then to have their images as part of the decor in their new home.

So, I sent an email off offering my services and to my delight they accepted!

The BBC gave me all the details of the family involved and the project and when I read their story I was even more delighted I could help.

The Radcliffe Family:

Kyle Ratcliffe and his husband of 10 years Garry have four adopted children, each with very complex and life limiting medical conditions.
The couple, who originally fostered the children, went on to adopt them and open up their home to help them flourish in a safe environment. Garry works as a head teacher at a primary school in Dartford and Kyle, a former social worker, is now a full-time carer for all four children.

Their eldest son Haydn, 12, has cerebral palsy, is blind in one eye, is tube fed and uses a powered wheelchair full-time.

His younger brother Curtis also has severe cerebral palsy, as well as scoliosis, hip dysplasia, epilepsy and sleep apnoea. The five-year-old is also blind, tube fed and uses a wheelchair full-time.

Their nine-year-old sister Isobella has high-level Down’s syndrome, causing behavioural, learning and communication difficulties.

The youngest sibling, Phoebe, is four and physically perfectly healthy, but she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and night terrors, having been neglected and taken into care as a baby.
Kyle and Garry adopted Haydn and Curtis in 2013, and were then asked to temporarily foster Isobella and Phoebe. When they learnt the sisters were to be separated, with Phoebe likely to be adopted and Isobella left in care, they decided to adopt both girls to keep them together.

The shoot:

Cove studio in Sheerness provided the location and the owner very kindly waived the rental for us.

The family arrived and there was great excitement. The BBC had provided a brief and requested we have all the children in white. Kyle joked it wasn’t the most practical colour but they all got changed and looked so smart!

I started with Phoebe and got a few shots of her on her own. She gave me the best smiles and had posing down to a tee!
Bella was next and she was amazing! She had obviously been practicing her smiling and I got Lots of ‘cheeeeeese’ but when I shouted ‘ice cream’ she gave me the biggest smile!

Haydn was up next and what a charmer he is! Beautiful big eyes and a gorgeous smile. He has a Goofy teddy on his chair and even he was included in the shots (well it’s only fair!)

Curtis (Curly) was up next. His Dad put him in a comfy bean-bag and then we all started to clap and sing. He loved this! Laughs and smiles ensued and he also loved the flashing of the studio lights.

We then had some groups of the whole family and then a little surprise I had pre-planned with Kyle that I’ll keep under wraps until after Christmas so as not to ruin it for their friends and family.

While we were chatting after the session, Garry was showing me photos of their demolished house! Seemingly Haydn did the count down, a JCB arm through the roof and it was gone!

The whole time we were chatting Hayden held my hand and was laughing at how he was responsible for knocking the house down!

When we were done I had a kiss and cuddle from Bella and Phoebe and high 5’s from the boys. They were all just amazing, and a complete pleasure to photograph.

I’m going back down to Sheppey on ‘Reveal Day’ in October so will hopefully get to see the shots that the BBC have chosen for their home.

The programme will air some time next year but I will let you know in advance so you can tune in and see this amazing family for yourself.

The photos are under wraps until reveal day in October but once the family have seen them I will share them on here too.

The build will commence the week of 4th October and the BBC team are still looking for trades (brick layers are a priority). If you know anyone who could spare some time for this wonderful family, please contact diysossheppey@bbc.co.uk

It really was such a lovely session. Full of smiles, happiness and laughs. I feel very honoured to have captured images that they’ll have in their brand new home and I really hope they will be pleased with them.

If the world had more selfless people in it like Kyle and Garry it would be a much better place.

 

diy