DIY SOS real life-tragedies and heartwarming differences its made to lives

BBC programme DIY SOS has transformed the lives of hundreds of families since it first aired in 1999.

Hosted by Nick Knowles, the team have joined forces with local communities across the country to renovate the homes of many families, some of who have sadly suffered heartbreaking real-life tragedies.

The impact of the DIY SOS team has helped people move into the next chapter of their lives, with some saying that they do not know where they would be without them.

READ MORE:DIY SOS could have faced 'axe' if BBC bosses refused to let Nick Knowles return

On the anniversary of DIY SOS' first broadcast, Daily Star takes a closer look at some of the show's real-life tragedies – and how the team helped to transform the family's lives.

Tragic death two weeks before filming

Earlier this year, an emotional episode of DIY SOS saw the team transform a home for a family who lived with a range of health conditions.

Sarah and Peter's daughters Margaret and Suzanne were diagnosed with Myotonic Dystrophy – a genetic condition that causes muscles to waste away.

The family moved into an accessible home, which began to be renovated by Peter, but as his bones became weaker due to his condition fibromyalgia, progress on the renovations slowed down.

The DIY SOS team were called in to help renovate the home, but sadly, just two weeks before filming was set to begin, daughter Margaret died from her illness.

During one emotional scene, mother Sarah said it would mean "everything" to the family if the DIY SOS team could complete the renovations on their home, with father Peter describing it as "unbelievable" that the team were able to help.

Despite encountering a range of issues, including the effects of the weather brought on by Storm Dennis, DIY SOS transformed the family's home – including making the kitchen open plan and designing Suzanne's room to meet her physical needs.

The family also gave their blessing for Margaret's bedroom to be transformed into a physio hub, with mother Sarah telling host Nick Knowles that she wished her daughter could have seen the home renovated.

Daughter Suzanne also paid tribute to the team, saying: "I don't think thank you is going to cover it."

Show "saved my life"

A dad of three said that DIY SOS "saved his life", following his diagnosis with a spinal condition and the tragic death of his childhood sweetheart.

In 2017, Darren Hudson was diagnosed with a spinal condition called Cauda Equine Syndrome that left him unable to walk, with the former roofer later sharing a bedroom with his disabled son Oliver downstairs.

Just months later, his wife Sarah also suddenly died at their home on Boxing Day.

Darren's son Harvey and stepson Mike helped their father following the death of their mother, and two years later in 2019, the DIY SOS team arrived to help transform their home and their lives – with help from the local community.

Speaking about the impact of the DIY SOS team and community's help, Darren told Hull Live that they had "saved his life."

"Things have changed massively," said Darren.

"If this hadn’t happened I don’t know where I would be and we’ve come a long way as a family over the past 12 months.

"I’m still fighting my demons and that will continue for a while but this has given us a massive boost. I don’t know if I’d still be here and I dread to think if the work hadn’t been done where I would be today."

Since then, Darren has also had surgery on his spine and has been able to take steps on a frame, saying: "I’ve stood up on a frame in my kitchen and it was amazing because I hadn’t seen the kitchen from that height and I felt like a giant in my own house.

"Before DIY SOS I wasn’t in the right mindset and I neglected myself because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind but it has given me a big push to concentrate on myself and give myself 110 per cent."

Double death tragedy

In 2020, DIY SOS was called to help a family who had suffered a number of heartbreaking tragedies within a close space of time.

The Mirror reported that Caroline Blanchard's daughter Natasha died in a tragic accident in their garage in 2007 after she accidentally banged her head on a cupboard while playing on a neighbour's mini motorbike.

Natasha had appeared to be fine, telling her father Paul "It's OK, Daddy," but sadly her condition deteriorated, with mum Caroline saying on DIY SOS: "I just remember the surgeon coming in and telling me she was bleeding that badly she couldn't stop it."

Doctors advised Caroline and Paul that Natasha needed to be taken off a life-support machine, with their daughter sadly dying two years later.

Just nine years after the death of their daughter, Paul had been suffering ill health and a few days after complaining of chest pains, he suffered a cardiac arrest at home in their conservatory.

Paul was kept on a life support machine for 10 days before the machine was turned off.

Following the tragic events, the DIY SOS team and the local community came together to renovate their home, which included demolishing the conservatory and replacing the garage – both of which had been painful reminders of the family's loss.

A close friend of the family's said during the show: "Caroline, Reece and Paige are grieving and trying to rebuild their lives without their father, husband and sister.

"But there are two huge obstacles to their mental health; the daily visual reminders of the garage and the conservatory, where their two loved ones died."

Following the five-day renovation, both the family and the DIY SOS team were left in tears, with Nick Knowles saying: "Today a community come together to help a family in desperate need.

"It's a story of loss, of crippling grief and of a community who battle the elements to support a devastated family.

"It's going to be an emotional journey for us all. But by wiping away the painful memories we're building to give a grieving family the chance to start to move forward."

When asked by Nick on Twitter how they were enjoying their renovated home, Caroline also tweeted back: "It's amazing, absolutely love every inch of the whole place, so overwhelming what everyone has done for us, able to come downstairs and enjoy a coffee in the sunshine is priceless."

Heartbreaking final words

DIY SOS's spin-off series DIY SOS: The Big Build helped to transform the lives of a family who had lost a loved one to cancer, at the age of just 39 years old.

Father of three Shaun McCauley was part way through renovating his family's home when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, with The Irish Mirror reporting that some of his heartbreaking final words to his wife Lindsay were: "Sorry I'm leaving you in such a mess."

The house was part-way through its renovation and had no kitchen or bathroom, with Lindsay and her children moving in with her parents following the death of her husband.

However, the DIY SOS: The Big Build team came together with the local community to renovate their home in just seven days, with Lindsay saying that her husband would have loved living in the newly renovated house.

She said in the episode: "Shaun would have been amazed at what they achieved and thankful for what everyone’s done for his family. He would have loved living here.

"To know so many people have come together to create this beautiful house out of the goodness of their own hearts, it’s just amazing. Without the show, we wouldn’t have been home for quite some time."

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