A North Devon man recovering from major cancer surgery was left ‘absolutely shocked’ when his beloved dream car was presented to him by television’s Car SOS team.

The 'race mascot' aka Car SOS presenter Tim Shaw reveals to a stunned Tim Cresswell that he has been 'Car SOS-ed'. Picture: National GeographicThe 'race mascot' aka Car SOS presenter Tim Shaw reveals to a stunned Tim Cresswell that he has been 'Car SOS-ed'. Picture: National Geographic

Viewers on Thursday, April 23 watching the show on the National Geographic channel saw Tim Cresswell lost for words when presenters Tim Shaw and Fuzz Townshend sprang the surprise on him after fully restoring his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (Evo).

The 60-year-old from Barnstaple, who now lives in Ilfracombe, was at that point recovering from surgery for stage 4 bowel cancer that saw the removal of his bowel, bladder and prostate, leaving him with two stoma bags.

He had been warned that without surgery he might not live to see Christmas 2019.

At the height of his treatment in the summer of 2019 his family were busy behind the scenes speaking to the Car SOS team and filming for the show, which rescues beloved vehicles that also need extreme surgery and TLC to make them roadworthy again.

Tim Cresswell's rusting Mitsubishi Evo is collected from Ilfracombe by the Car SOS presenters. Picture: National GeographicTim Cresswell's rusting Mitsubishi Evo is collected from Ilfracombe by the Car SOS presenters. Picture: National Geographic

The Evo, a ‘super saloon’ from the 1990s was motorcycle mechanic Tim’s dream car of 12 years but it had broken down, was off-road and was sadly in need of restoration.

The big reveal was at Woolacombe Bay Hotel on December 19, four months after Tim’s surgery and a month after he had married his wife Denise after years together.

Tim thought he was going to watch a fun run organised for Lundy ward at North Devon District Hospital and his step daughter Sheryden invited the ward nurses, knowing he would go anywhere for them, as he called them his ‘angels without wings’.

The surprise had been carefully set up by the SOS team, Sheryden and Tim’s daughter Kirsty.

Tim Cresswell's Mitsubishi Evo stripped back to the bones in the Car SOS workshop. Picture: National GeographicTim Cresswell's Mitsubishi Evo stripped back to the bones in the Car SOS workshop. Picture: National Geographic

Tim told the Gazette: “I had no idea at all, it was a complete shock. We turned up and there was a race archway and all the runners.

“The mascot came over and grabbed my cheeks and I was thinking ‘why don’t you go and pick on someone else’. Then he took his head off and it was Tim Shaw! I said ‘what are you doing here?’ and he said ‘what do you think I am doing here?’

“I was in disbelief, that car had not been on the road for such a long time. I think they had a massive amount of work and probably more than they anticipated at the time.”

Sheryden contacted the Gazette to share the family’s story about how they had contacted Car SOS for him. She said: “He had been such a hero and so brave I wanted to find a way to give something back to him. He has always been a huge fan of the show since it began so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to lift his spirits.”

Tim Cresswell and the Car SOS presenters with some of the nurses who looked after him during and after his major surgery to tackle bowel cancer. Picture: Sheryden PhillipsTim Cresswell and the Car SOS presenters with some of the nurses who looked after him during and after his major surgery to tackle bowel cancer. Picture: Sheryden Phillips

Ironically, the show’s producer Woody called her back on August 23, 2019, the very day Tim was about to undergo the eight hour surgery at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital that would save his life.

She said: “Having the phone call on that day just gave me more faith and hope.

“Woody also explained that they had been wanting to do a show on this car model for many years but had never got the chance to do so.”

“We would all like again to say another huge thank you to the NHS, team Lundy and staff at the NDDH including Mr Cartmell and team, the staff on Lyme ward at the RD and E, Ian Daniels, Brian Parsons plus the anaesthetist and staff in ITU at the RD and E, also a big thanks to the stoma care staff from both hospitals.

The Car SOS team with Tim Cresswell and family after the big reveal of the revamp of his cherished Mitsubishi Evo. Picture: Sheryden PhillipsThe Car SOS team with Tim Cresswell and family after the big reveal of the revamp of his cherished Mitsubishi Evo. Picture: Sheryden Phillips

“Big thanks to Force cancer centre charity at RD and E for their support for both Tim and Denise during and after their time at Exeter.”

Tim is also hugely thankful to the health service. He said: “I didn’t need Covid-19 to realise how much the NHS meant to me.

“Car SOS was brilliant and I am truly grateful for what they have done and I am also in awe of the NHS, because without them there would be no need for me to need a car.”