In tonight’s DIY SOS Big Build in Kettering, the team help mum-of-four Lindsey McAuley, whose husband died from cancer while they were extending their home
Shaun and Lindsey McAuley were excitedly planning for their family’s future when a devastating tragedy struck.
Midwife Lindsey, 39, and ex-Royal Engineer Shaun, 39, who got married in 2019 after meeting on a dating app, were extending their home last September and halfway through the house September renovations.
The couple had happy family unit with two boys Leo, four and one-year-old Zac together, in addition to Lindsey’s two kids, Maisy, 16, and Hazel, 13, from a previous marriage.
In the summer of 2021 they began to extend their house in Kettering, Northamptonshire, with a local builder working with them to put in the foundations, walls and roof.
After getting the structural elements sorted, the plan was for Shaun to finish the rest of the build himself by fitting a new kitchen and bathroom.
However, the fit and healthy dad started experiencing lower back pain and doctors found a mass in his stomach which they removed.
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Shaun also had an operation on his kidneys and bowel, but he was struck down by an aggressive cancer which spread to his lungs and died in November, just eight weeks after being diagnosed.
Heartbreakingly, one of the last things that Shaun said to Lindsey before he died was: “Sorry I’m leaving you in such a mess.”
Speaking about her husband, Lindsey told The Mirror: “Shaun was kind, he was a really energetic person and people loved being around him.
“He had a witty sense of humour, always joking and pulling pranks. He was always supportive. He was just a brilliant man, a brilliant stepdad to the girls and dad to Leo and Zac.”
Lindsey and her four children were devastated when Shaun died, and their grievance was compounded by the fact that their home was left uninhabitable.
Before Shaun died, Lindsey’s best friend Millie asked his approval for her to contact DIY SOS and was fine with it, but sadly he died a week after the producers got in contact.
The DIY SOS team wanted to help and present Nick Knowles down to their home with designer Gabrielle Blackman.
Nick, who was determined to make sure the renovation was done right, said: “Shaun served his country. He set out to build this house for his family. He wanted to provide and protect.
“What we have seen is that everyone here is determined to pick up where he left off so they have a family home.”
There were also hundreds of local tradespeople, volunteers and some of Shaun’s old Army pals who stepped in to help with the amazing transformation, which only took a week.
This included creating aa purpose-built studio at the bottom of the garden for Maisy and Hazel, a bedroom for Lindsey and turning the kitchen into the hub of the home.
Lindsey said it was nice for the teenagers to have their own place to escape as the house was very chaotic with two toddlers.
“I’m feeling really happy and amazed at what all these people have come to do,” said Lindsey as she addressed the gathered volunteers outside.
“It’s an absolutely beautiful house. Shaun would be absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is. He would have loved it. It’s open, airy, comfortable and cozy.”
One of the members of the Royal Engineers, Shaun’s old regiment, told BBC Radio Northampton: “This is definitely somewhere that has a good community.
“It’s been really lovely to see the community come out and support people.”
Millie, Lindsey’s friend who first contacted the show and convinced them to help the family, said: “It’s magical. I promised Shaun I would get it done. It’s going to be somewhere they can relax.”
Everyone was given their own space to go off and grieved privately by themselves as well as areas where they could come together.
Shaun certainly remains at the very heart of the home and the family can still feel his presence throughout their home.
Lindsey said: “The extension was something Shaun and I were going to be doing together and it’s nice I can feel he’s still here. He’s still part of the family.”
It’s the first time that Nick has been back presenting DIY SOS since he was replaced last year after breaching the BBC’s strict advertising rules by featuring in a Shreddies advert.
The presenter added: “We want to keep talking about Shaun. This lot are family for life. It’s fair to say you have a bigger family. Thank you, you guys have been amazing.”
*The brand new series of DIY SOS starts tonight at 8pm on BBC One
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