A football fan who went from being the ‘life and soul of the party’ to being unable to walk or talk after being savagely attacked by a dozen thugs has his own bedroom for the first time in three years – thanks to DIY SOS.
Simon Dobbin from Mildenhall, Suffolk was beaten and ‘kicked like a football’ after going to watch Cambridge play away in Southend, in an unprovoked attack in March 2015.
The father-of-three who served in the RAF suffered permanent brain damage.
His wife Nicole insisted on caring for him at home, but without a wet room and only the living room for him to sleep in, his family said he was being ‘stripped of his dignity’.
Last night, viewers ‘sobbed’ at home as they watched his home transformed by the team with DIY SOS, led by Nick Knowles.
More than 900 volunteers came forward to help transform the home where Simon was sleeping in the living room and only had access to bed baths.
Nicole refused to let Simon go into care despite him being brain damaged – she instead took him home to look after him
Simon was described as the ‘life and soul’ of the party who loved to watch Cambridge FC
His daughter Emily who is now studying to be a paramedic said her life has changed immeasurably since the attack.
She said: ‘We were always out and about. We’d go to Felixstow and take the dog – it was me and him time.
‘I miss talking to him. We haven’t had a conversation.
‘I remember he would throw his arms around me and give me a hug – I miss that.
‘He is just trapped in his body. It is hard.
‘When I walk into the room I see him smile so I know he’s happy to be around.
‘I talk to him like he’s normal. I want the future to be easier for mum and dad – something worth living for, for dad. Anything we can do to help him.’
Simon and Nicole have been married for nearly 20 years and looks after him at their home
Simon’s daughter Emily has been hit hard by the changes to her father but helps her mother to care for him
Wife Nicole said she will stay with Simon and care for him as long as she is physically able
The team was denied permission from the council for an extension so the home had to be gutted first with internal walls and a chimney have to be removed.
The changes they made have improved the lives of the entire family, including Simon who is now able to shower in a wet room.
Wife Nicole said her aim is to make sure he has the ‘best life’ she can give him.
She said: ‘I don’t know how I would have lived without him.
‘I would rather have him the way he is than not at all.’
Her long term plan is to get carers in so they can ‘still stay together’ when she is physically unable to care for him.
She added: ‘The changes that DIY SOS made to the house have made life so much easier for all of us.
Before: Simon could not get out into the garden with his family because of access problems
After: Large glass doors were added and the garden was modernised to the family can get out and enjoy the space
‘Now he has his own bedroom where the living room was. He’s also got his own wet room which is more private so he can keep his dignity.
‘They’ve installed CCTV and a monitor in Simon’s room so I can check on him.
‘The monitor means I can hear him breathing and it’s like he’s next to me. It means that I don’t have to constantly be by his side to know he’s okay.
‘The doorways and the front door have been widened so it’s easier to get Simon from one room to the other in his wheelchair.
‘Before we had a manual hoist but now we have a ceiling hoist that he can use to get from his bedroom to his en-suite.’
The team had just Nine days to do the build, designed by Lawrence Lleweleyn-Bowen.
Those who attacked Mr Dobbin are currently serving jail sentences after being sentenced in 2017.
Mr Dobbin had travelled to Southend to watch the League Two match at Roots Hall stadium, which finished 0-0.
He was on his way home and heading towards Prittlewell train station when as many as 15 rival supporters poured out of a nearby pub, The Railway Tavern, and ‘jumped’ the Cambridge fans.
One witness, speaking after the attack, said the rival fans ‘just used [Mr Dobbin] like a football’, and said he was saved by a friend who lay on top of him, shielding him from some of the blows.
Mr Dobbin was discovered on the ground with serious head injuries in the aftermath of the fight.
Nicole – who is now a full time carer to her husband of nearly 20 years – is campaigning for tougher laws for those involved football violence.
The 12 men jailed for vicious attack
Eight men were jailed for violent disorder:
Five years for Ryan Carter, 21, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Four years for Jamie Chambers, 24, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Three-and-a-half years for Lewis Courtnell, 34, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Three-and-a-half years for Scott Nicholls, 40, of Basildon, Essex
Three-and-a-half years for Matthew Petchey, 26, of Rochford, Essex
Sixteen months for Rhys Pullen, 21, of Wickford, Essex
Five years for Thomas Randall, 22, of of Southend-on-Sea, Essex
Five years for Alexander Woods, 25, of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
Three years for James Woods, 25, of of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
Three men were jailed for conspiracy to commit violent disorder:
Three years for Greg Allen, 29, of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
Three years for Phil McGill, 32, of Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
Two-and-half-years for Michael Shawyer, 31, of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex