From an interview with Giles Cooper
I first went (to Hollybush) in early 1979, it was a derelict house with crap and rubbish everywhere. We just larked about, moved pallets out of the barn with Huddersfield Conservation Volunteers and burnt them, John Iles was there, and it was the first time I met him, I think I took on the building work by default, there was no-one else there to do it.
It was a case of ‘we need to do this’ so we had a go, like build a new barn door. Made it up on the spot, made up the quantities. I’d made a pencil case in woodwork at school, so what more did I need?
We filled the barn walls with liquid cement as all the hearting in the middle had gone, it was John Iles’ idea to grout them and then we pointed all the walls.
I can’t remember how we lived, we must have stunk to high heaven, it was always
warm and there were no washing facilities really. John Iles came up and showed
someone how to plumb a toilet in. Someone plumbed the toilet into the hot water, it could have been me. You got a nice hot flush, what more do you want? We got a bathroom upstairs, we built it out of pallets. We built the mega triple bunks; we built the row of three toilets just outside the kitchen. I built the doors for those toilets.
I did a year of volunteering and two years of STEP (Special Temporary Employment
Programme) but stopped living at Hollybush in 1981. I came back in 1984 to help finish the internals of the outside building when Linda was manager. I remember it was summer and I started work at 6am, then they’d all come in yawning at 9am, and I’d done three hours work.