We’re Gonna be on the Telly!

May 22, 2022

Tune in to BBC1 on Tuesday 24th May at 8pm to see our very own Southmead Adventure Playground on the telly in BBC DIY SOS. It’s not to be missed with moving interviews with our Volunteers and Youth and Play team, and fabulous footage of the highs and lows, and thrills and spills, of the nine day quick turnaround building project.  Grab your tissues and prepare to be wowed!

If you were involved as a Volunteer with the DIY SOS team then massive thanks to you. The community spirit was amazing and so many of you turned out to contribute: Fonthill School brought cakes; local Tesco workers made tea; tradespeople from near and far lent their skills; and Southmead Rugby Club brought their muscle!

With the brand new apparatus and play areas in place The Ranch is literally back in full swing and was buzzing during the Easter holidays with lots of exciting activities.

Loved by us all and for many generations, The Ranch has certainly had its fair share of set-backs, even before the pandemic meant it had to shut. We remember the fires and rebuilds, the closure scares and ‘Save the Ranch’ campaigns, and the different organisations battling to manage the site on a shoestring.

In 2018 the Southmead Development Trust agreed to take on the lease from Bristol City Council and run it. This was a massive step for the Trust as the yearly running costs for the site are enormous and we knew we would need to raise funds and ask volunteers to support us. A few residents got together to form a group to plan and ‘steer’ how we could progress The Ranch over the next few years, but then the pandemic put things on hold and the future looked a bit grim.

It was when buildings began to gradually open again that our steering group refocused on how to move things forward and one of the group, Holly Maurice, had the idea to ask if the BBC DIY SOS team could lend a hand . . . before we knew it, it was ‘camera, lights, action’ and Nick Knowles and his lovely team had landed . After some initial planning meetings they told us to vacate the site for nine days and not to look!

Our team at the time were James, Nat and Lil and they were interviewed by Nick Knowles about their hopes for the renovations and the future, along with our chief Volunteer Sheralyn Fowler who shared her memories of being at The Ranch as a child.

The best thing about the process of the project was how local Volunteers came to get stuck in with building, gardening, carpentry, and generally lending a much needed hand.

As you will see, the ‘big reveal’ day was amazing and children and families poured back in to the site to see what had been achieved during the nine days. Outside they found a brand new games surface for sports, giant swings, a ‘death slide’, the pond cleared, replanted landscapes and an outdoor learning space next to the stream with a fire pit. Inside they found a beautifully refurbished hut to hang out in with cool seating and a new snooker table – thanks to the owners of the Bear and Rugged Staff (the Welcome in the old days!). In addition there is a state of the art music studio with recording facilities.

Everyone was delighted with the new features at The Ranch and we had a celebration for families to come and take a look. The ‘death slide’ and huge swings were an instant hit, as you can imagine, and we were all in awe of the new music studio and lovely décor inside the hut. It didn’t take long before ball games were back on the new pitch with five-a-side matches.

The project was a huge boost for The Ranch and we’re very grateful to the DIY SOS team and to all residents who came to help, raised funds or donated – a huge thank you.

The Trust now has the really hard and long term job ahead to keep The Ranch open and running for future generations and we’d love to know if you can help us. You may like to become one of our ‘Ranch Hand’ Volunteers?

Do get in touch, ring us at the Greenway Centre on 0117 950 3335, or email: info@southmead.org, or pop along to The Ranch to chat with the staff team Will, Nat and Lil, or Volunteers like Sheralyn and Andi Fowler.

But most importantly tune in and see if you can spot anyone: DIY SOS – BBC1 8pm – Tuesday 24th May.