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'Game on' for William and Harry at DIY SOS project for ex-service personnel

Published 23/09/2015

Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, pictured together during a visit to Lesotho
Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge, pictured together during a visit to Lesotho

The heat was on to see who had the better DIY skills between the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry as they donned their personalised hard hats and steel-toe boots to help turn a derelict street into homes for ex-service personnel.

After William declared it was "game on", the brothers set about showing off their handiwork during a visit to a Manchester street wearing their "William" and "Harry" hats.

William, wearing a blue shirt and jumper, and Harry looking casual in a blue hoodie, both rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in to lend their support to the project.

Hailed as the DIY SOS team's "most ambitious" project to date, it will see eight buildings undergo renovation plus the rejuvenation of the facades of 62 houses to help create the basis of a new mixed community.

And after being given a grand tour of the two-row terraced-house site in Canada Street, Newton Heath, presenter Nick Knowles challenged them to see who could do the best job in helping make the 62 houses liveable.

With an impromptu rendition of the famed scene from the Wolf of Wall Street, the brothers were forced to hum the Matthew McConaughey chant for a matter of seconds as they thumped their chest whilst being spurred on by the scores of laughing builders.

Naturally building work came to a standstill for a short period to watch the brothers at work with some workers peering down from scaffolding and rooftops.

The Duke showed off his artistic flair as he painted the kitchen wall of one of the houses, while speaking of his time in the RAF - including his search and rescue role.

He described the difficulties veterans faced in returning to the civilian world, adding it was "much harder". But he commended the "vibe" of the project adding that he hoped that similar things would catch on across the country.

Meanwhile Harry had his work cut out for him next door as he laid paving stones in the garden, putting his hands up in the air and laughing on completion.

He later commented to one ex-serviceman that William's paint job had not been "very good" and he had been forced to paint over it.

Afterwards the brothers shook hands with some of the 240 volunteers and builders who aim to have the two-week project completed by the end of the week.

They also took time out from their work to speak with ex-army veterans who will be moving into the houses. Triple amputee Lamin Manneh, 37, of the Irish Guards, who lost his limbs at war, was asked about the challenges he faced.

Mr Manneh, a father of five children, had never been able to read his children a bedtime story because of his difficulties in getting upstairs.

The project has enabled him to get a specially-adapted home and he told Harry and William of the "opportunities" that it would bring for himself and his family.

John Borge, 36, who served in the Queen's Royal Lancers and suffers from PTSD also spoke to them. He said: "The adjustment is really tough. As soon as you come out into civilian street, it's completely different, nobody cares about you."

Nick Knowles said he hoped there would be a legacy and that councils and authorities across the country would follow suit.

He said: "There is no reason why this can't be repeated, it doesn't make sense that we have empty houses and homeless veterans."

The redevelopment will also have a support centre on the street, to be run by Walking With The Wounded and the Royal British Legion to assist ex-servicemen and women with retraining, and on-site support for those who have been injured - mentally or physically - while in the Armed Forces.

The brothers, who are both ex-military, hope to draw attention to the ongoing challenges facing service personnel who make the transition to civilian life.

The Duke of Cambridge completed seven and a half years of full-time military service before leaving operational service in the Armed Forces in September 2013.

Prince Harry left the Armed Forces after a ten-year full time military career after he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in May 2005.

Actor Matthew McConaughey told The Graham Norton Show that the chant which appeared in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street was something he did before scenes to help him "relax".

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