Family’s labour of love is star of show

Programme Name: Restoration Home - TX: 01/08/2012 - Episode: The Elms (No. 3) - Embargoed for publication until: n/a - Picture Shows: Outside The Elms Ann Ashcroft, Gavin Holmwood, Kaitlin - (C) Endemol - Photographer: Joff Wilson
Programme Name: Restoration Home - TX: 01/08/2012 - Episode: The Elms (No. 3) - Embargoed for publication until: n/a - Picture Shows: Outside The Elms Ann Ashcroft, Gavin Holmwood, Kaitlin - (C) Endemol - Photographer: Joff Wilson
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A FAMILY who took a crumbling Georgian tower house and restored it to its former glory will have their journey shared with millions of television viewers tonight.

Architect Gavin Holmwood, aged 33, and his partner Ann Ashforth, 39, used to gaze longingly at the derelict three-storey building opposite their farmhouse in North Wingfield, Chesterfield.

With no windows, doors, floors, electricity or running water, they knew a long labour of love lay ahead when they bought The Elms for £180,000 in December 2010.

But the pair underestimated just how much blood, sweat and tears would have to go into making it a family home for them and daughter Kaitlin, aged seven.

After signing up to take part in BBC series Restoration Home, cameras visited the property regularly between April last year and June, just before the family moved in.

Gavin worked with plumbers, electricians and builders to bring the building up to scratch and separate it into two houses, while social worker Ann kept working.

Producers also helped the family trace the historical roots of the Grade II listed building to the Clay family, who owned the majority of agricultural land and a number of properties in the village during a family history which dates back to the 1500s.

Gavin said: “The first time we viewed the house it was winter and we had to use torches to get around! But we fell in love with it.”

He added: “It has been stressful. There have been a lot of financial problems with the banks. We couldn’t get a mortgage on it because it had to be inhabitable and it wasn’t.

“When we bought it, I said to Ann it was like something you’d see on the TV - and then we found out about an appeal for people with old buildings to take part in the programme. ”

Though the house is not finished, Gavin and the labourers have split it into two - one half for his mother Suzanne Holwood to live in - in about one year.

n Restoration House airs on BBC2 at 8pm tonight.