A star of the hit BBC programme The Great British Sewing Bee is using his talent to help the homeless in Bolton.

Damien Wilton from Bolton came fifth in season seven of the TV sewing contest in 2021.

He has been volunteering at Emmaus Bolton, even opening the charity's newest social enterprise at their community off Fletcher Street.

Speaking about his volunteering at Emmaus, Damien said: “I have been volunteering at Emmaus Bolton for about 18 months now and it’s a thoroughly rewarding experience and a lovely community to be a part of.

“My volunteering journey started after appearing on The Great British Sewing Bee in 2021 when I was invited to the official opening ceremony of the Scrap Store in the yard at Emmaus Bolton where they have a great range of fabrics, haberdashery and crafting items.

“I loved the atmosphere of the people and the community and asked if it was ok if I could volunteer…I have been going ever since.

“I can’t go as often as I would like though as I now have a job which requires working away for months at a time.

“I am very fortunate though as I am now sewing for a living, which is amazing as I get to travel the world working in the theatres on board cruise ships altering the costumes.

The Bolton News: Damien trying out the sewing machine at Emmaus BoltonDamien trying out the sewing machine at Emmaus Bolton (Image: Emmaus Bolton)

“When I’m not working I do love returning back to Emmaus Bolton to volunteer though as it’s a great atmosphere and chef Craig does a fantastic lunch for the volunteers too!

“I can highly recommend volunteering as you meet lots of new people, learn new skills and it gives you a nice feeling doing something for others. You never know, it could change your life and others for the better!

"Emmaus Bolton is a great charity which offers homeless people accommodation until they can get “back on track” with life and its nice to know that places like this exist when people are going through tough times."

Speaking about his experience on The Great British Sewing Bee, Damien said: "I applied to go on the Great British sewing bee in 2020 after watching series six during lockdown.

"At the end of one of the episodes I saw they were looking for people to apply for the next series so I casually filled the online application form in over a few weeks and sent it off.

"A few days later I received a phonecall and then the “interviewing” process began.

"After I was accepted onto the show I went down to London and met my fellow stitchers before we embarked on the amazing journey of competitive sewing.

"The whole process was a fantastic experience from start to finish including the pattern challenges, the crazy transformation challenges and even the practising the “made to measure “ challenges at home.

"I met some great new friends while I was there and learned a lot during the eight weeks when I was on the show.

"All the new skills I learned prior and during the process have come in handy too as I now do sewing for a living working on board cruise ships in the theatres altering the costumes.

"It really is great fun and very rewarding , especially when we dock in lovely warm countries and get chance to have an explore."

Director of Emmaus Bolton, Tony Stephenson said: “When you watch series seven of The Great British Sewing Bee Damien is a real star.

“The way he approached each of the challenges on the show was so much fun to watch.

“Damien always had a smile on his face, when things went right and things went wrong, which, we think, shows true Bolton spirit. 

“When you meet Damien, he’s a really inspirational person that fires up enthusiasm in others, so we were delighted when he came to meet people at Emmaus Bolton and find out how the charity helps people move on from homelessness.   

“We were about to open our newest social enterprise at our community off Fletcher Street - a charity arts, crafts, and hobby supplies shop, selling fabric and haberdashery - when Damien agreed to cut the ribbon to open the store and open our Recycling Centre, with the mayor at the time, Linda Thomas.

“To support Emmaus Bolton, he even donated a denim dress he made during Recycle Week on the show, which we have on display in our ‘Scrap Store’. 

The Bolton News: Tony, Rebecca and DamienTony, Rebecca and Damien (Image: Emmaus Bolton)

“Ever since then, Damien’s been a regular face at Emmaus Bolton.

“He gets stuck in alongside volunteers working together in our Recycling Centre.

“They take apart clean clothing donations and turn their fantastic ideas into new items to go on sale to help raise funds for the charity.

“This kind of upcycling is exactly like what Damien did during Recycle Week on the show. 

“Damien has also helped out in our on-site workshop, where people living in our homelessness charity can develop skills in furniture-making and upcycling.

“There is nothing he won’t have a go at! 

“We’re very grateful to Damien for his time, support, and for his charity shop donations.

“Damien’s been uplifting to have on site for everyone who is part of our Emmaus community, and we are really looking forward to his next visit. 

“There are volunteer places currently available at Emmaus Bolton in fashion and clothing and bric-a-brac. Pop in to see us and take a look around or visit https://emmaus.org.uk/bolton/support-us/volunteer-roles/ to join in." 

If you have a story or something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at chloe.wilson@newsquest.co.uk or DM me on Twitter @chloewjourno.