RTE presenter Baz Ashmawy said he was impressed by the generosity of Irish people in his hit series DIY SOS: The Big Build Ireland.
At a time when the country faces enormous challenges, such as the housing crisis and the lifting of the eviction ban, he is “always amazed” how many communities are uniting to help those in need.
“Every time you start a new project you think: ‘I wonder if we’ve run out of goodwill?’. But that never happens,” he said.
“A large part of Do-It-Yourself SOS are the suppliers and the companies that come on board to help – and that’s never a problem for us, which is great.
“You can’t put a price on people’s good will. And sometimes I think the harder times are, the more people will dig together because they know how hard it is and they need to feel like they’re doing a little bit of good .”
Now in the fourth series of his popular RTÉ show, it’s critical to its success to get up to 1,000 tradesmen to volunteer their expertise and time for free to help families in need get their dream homes.
In the latest series, he travels to Cork, Athlone, Ennis and Sligo as the team completes work on four different home makeover projects to improve the lives of those families for the better.
Many volunteers find the work “addictive” because they spend their time, he said, helping complete strangers.
“People are very parochial about it and then other people come from all over the country and this is their ‘thing’. They take a whole week off from work and go to the project site with their crew to help us. Then you get people just doing it for a day, which is also very important,” he said.
“I think that everyone who does voluntary work benefits. You get paid in something spiritual, you get something deeper out of it.
I don’t think anyone wants to see a 47 year old man running around doing the kind of stuff I did on that show
“Seeing the family on the first day of construction and going back into the house on the last day is very moving. It’s also very addictive. Doing good things for other people is very contagious, it feels good. That’s why the volunteers ask: ‘When is the first day?’. And you’re like, “I just spent nine straight days with you.” We have such a laugh, but it’s very intense.”
He said the show has the “ultimate feel-good factor”.
“It has a nice balance. It’s tasty and moving and inspiring – it has all the right ingredients,” he said.
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Last night’s episode featured Ashmawy visiting Co Westmeath where the team were renovating the home of homeowners Pa Berry and his partner Nicky, who have three children together.
The firefighter suffered serious injuries on the job, leaving him unemployed and has a long road to recovery. They started renovating their house seven years ago before the project stalled, and last night viewers saw Ashmawy and his team step in to help them finally finish the job.
Meanwhile, the Emmy-winning star said he’s also going back to his roots by gearing up for a new travel series with RTÉ. He first started his TV career making the world traveling show How low can you go? but he said this one will be “much quieter”.
“I don’t think anyone wants to see a 47-year-old guy running around doing the kind of stuff I did on that show,” he added.