Kettering DIY SOS family remember 'fairytale' dad and 'perfect' husband

Shaun McAuley tragically died from an aggressive rare cancer

By Alison Bagley
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:09 pm

The Kettering family who are being helped by DIY SOS have spoken of their 'perfect' husband and a 'fairytale' father who tragically he died before he could complete a project.

Big Build volunteers have now started working on the house Shaun McAuley had begun to renovate, work he had to abandon after being struck down by an aggressive rare cancer.

Super-fit Shaun died suddenly in November last year leaving his widow Lindsey and their family - her two girls and their two young boys grieving with his plans on hold.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lindsey McAuley with children l-r Leo, 4, Hazel, 13, Zac, 1, and Maisy, 16

Lindsey and daughters Maisy, 16, Hazel, 13, and sons Leo, four, and Zac, one, met some of the scores of volunteers ready to make Shaun's dream a reality at the Kettering house.

Lindsey said: "I don't think anything prepares you for seeing all those people who are there to help you.

"It was very emotional. I did tear-up looking at Shaun's brother Darren."

Midwife Lindsey, 39, married ex-Royal Engineer Shaun on December 12, 2019. With two children of their own and two daughters from Lindsey’s previous marriage, the family were united by marriage and excited about their future together.

How the house had been left - Lindsey and Shaun

After meeting through online dating the couple hit it off with Shaun moving from his home in Peterborough to be with Lindsey.

Before Shaun’s cancer diagnosis, the couple began an ambitious building project to extend their house and create space for the family to live together.

A local builder worked with them to put in foundations, the walls and roof and get the extension up to first fix - all the work needed to take a building from foundation to putting plaster on the internal walls.

The plan was for Shaun to finish the build himself. He had already ripped out the kitchen and bathroom but in September 2021 he fell ill.

l-r John Whiteford, Ian Chapman and Jim Roberts of CAWR Ltd

Lindsey said: "He had back pain and a urinary tract infection. He went to the GP and they sent him straight up to A&E. A CT scan showed a mass in his stomach. They had to ring round to find a hospital that would treat him. He ended up in Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham."

The surgeons removed his large and small intestine and a kidney. A biopsy revealed the mass was a highly aggressive blue cell sarcoma tumour. Despite his treatment, the cancer had spread around his body and he died on November 10, 2021.

Determined to complete his project, builders, plumbers, electricians, render specialists, decorators, carpet fitters, landscapers and suppliers made an early start on Sunday morning (January 16) with Lindsey and her family thanking the assembled volunteers - an emotional moment of the 39-year-old mum-of-four.

Lindsey, Shaun and the children had already been living with Lindsey's parents in Great Cransley when Shaun fell ill. She was on hand to see all the volunteers.

Nick Knowles, face of DIY SOS

Mum Bev Clarke said: "I think it's brilliant. It's given Lindsey something to look forward to."

Taking part are volunteers from across the country bringing their skills to help complete the project.

Presenter of DIY SOS Big Build Nick Knowles said: "The community has come together to build the family home and a place to begin a new life-chapter together. It's an amazing thing to be part of.

"Your kind volunteering and donations can help reunite a grief stricken family under one roof, allowing a place to grieve and a place to begin a new life chapter together.

"We are so grateful for all the trade volunteers and the donation of products to assist in this very emotional build. Them being here is a great example of how communities have looked after each other during the pandemic.

"Shaun served his country. For me, as a guy and a family man, he set out to build this house for his family. The house was unfinished. 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."

Andrew Stanley from Brigstock

General builder Andrew Stanley of Brigstock was motivated to volunteer after his family was helped after he fell ill.

He said: "They rallied round my wife and my daughter, now I can give something back."

Carpenter Ian Chapman from Irthlingborough is volunteering for his second Big Build, after being part of another project in Corby.

He said: "I volunteered when we did the Corby one. It is nice helping out people. It's not all about earning money - we are giving back to the community."

Builder Jim Roberts of CAWR Ltd came to help from nearby Rutland.

He said: "It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling. When the family came out I don't think there was a dry eye."

Taking days off work to lend a hand is John Whiteford from Corby, who is branch manager for BOC. They have given him two days off in order to volunteer.

He said: "I want to give something back, to do something unselfish. I've taken two days holiday and BOC have given me two days so I can help."

The family will be back on Sunday (January 23) to see the work for themselves.

Daughter Maisy, a student at Kettering Science Academy, said: "It's surreal. I can't wait to go home - our home.

"He was the best dad. It was like a fairytale, we never saw mum so happy as when she met Shaun."

Lindsey added: "I can't thank them enough. It is unbelievable the lengths people are willing to go to come and help, especially with people struggling at the moment.

"The programme will give them something that the boys can get to know their dad. People will be telling stories about Shaun.

"I see him in the boys, Zac is his double and he is around in the kids. Shaun was the perfect husband. He was so supportive, caring and funny. He was the happy ever after."

Read More

Read More
Kettering DIY SOS Big Build gets under way for bereaved family - picture special
The DIY SOS team with volunteers