Viewers moved to tears by BBC's repair shop client with cancer

The Repair Shop viewers are moved to tears by ‘brave’ cancer sufferer with ‘four or five months left’ who brings in her mother’s writing case to be fixed so it can be passed down to granddaughter

  • Wendy, from Bristol, wanted Repair Shop Suzie Fletcher to repair writing case 
  • It belonged to her late mother who used it to write letters throughout her life 
  • Wendy, who suffered from stage four cancer, wanted to give it to her daughter
  • Said only had four to five months to live, and wanted granddaughter to get case  

The Repair Shop viewers were moved to tears by the touching story of a grandmother with stage four cancer who brought in her mother’s writing case on last night’s episode. 

Wendy Bray, from Bristol, asked expert Suzie Fletcher to repair a faded red leather case that belonged to her late mother, who used it for correspondence while working at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and throughout her life. 

Wendy told how she wanted it to be an heirloom that she could pass on to her daughter, who could in turn pass it on to her granddaughter. 

‘I want to give this to my daughter for my granddaughter and I need to do this fairly soon because I have stage four cancer,’ she explained. 

‘So although it’s hard for me to believe sitting here, and it’s probably hard for you to believe looking at me, I’ve only got about four or five months left.

‘I want to do this so it’s something for her, that I’ve given to my daughter to give to my granddaughter that not only reminds her of me, but of her great-granny.’

Wendy Bray, from Bristol, pictured, asked expert Suzie Fletcher to repair a faded red leather case that belonged to her late mother, who used it for correspondence while working at Bletchley Park during the Second World War and throughout her life

Wendy’s mother and father, pictured, both served during the Second World War, and corresponded by letters that her mother wrote on her writing case 

The case, pictured, had lost its colour and its stitching needed repairing. Wendy wanted to leave it for her granddaughter and explained she only had four or five months left to live

Suzie Fletcher restored the writing case, pictured, and filled it blue paper just like the one Wendy’s mother used 

Viewers were left emotional over Wendy’s story, with several praising her courage. 

One tweeted: ‘Lovely moment with the writing case. To see Wendy happy to have it restored before she gives it to her daughter is very moving. #TheRepairShop.’

Another posted: ‘ Watching @TheRepairShop #TheRepairShop the lady with her mums writing case…I was fine, then she said she wants to give it to her daughter and granddaughter as she has 4 months to live.’

A third added: ‘Watching The Repair Shop is always an emotional experience but the story behind the restoration of that lady’s writing case has me in touching but sad. #therepairshop.’

Wendy was upbeat when she first came to the shop to share more of the case’s story with Suzie.

‘This is my late mum’s writing case. I can remember as a child, being opened and being bright red,’ she explained. ‘A binding memory for me is her sitting by the fire, with her head bowed, with this on her lap. 

‘So when there was a letter to write to the council or a letter to write to the school, which was quite often in my mum’s case, out would come the blue paper, out would come the blue envelope. out would come the fountain pen and she even took out a piece of paper for me from it to draw.’ 

Suzie Fletcher, pictured, said she would do all it took to restore the case to its former glory and make it useful again 

Wendy explained she had little things left of her mother and wanted to share her memory with her daughter Lois and her granddaughter. Pictured, the writing case before

Wendy’s mother, right, was a member of the Women Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and was tasked with decoding German messages during the war. Wendy’s father, left, was stationed in Normandy and Germany. Wendy said the writing case reminded her of her late mother

Wendy explained the case was given to her mother by her grandparents before she left home to service in the Women Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), during the Second World War. She spent time working as a decoder at Bletchley Park.

‘Her job really was to take half decoded messages, trying to reverse what the Germans were sending to their enigma machines to find out what the message was,’ she explained. 

The customer also revealed her mother did not share what she had done during the war until the late 1970s. 

‘I think it was in 1977 or 1978, we were sitting watching BBC News and she just looked up and said “oh I was there”.’

The writing was also a reminder of the love story between Wendy’s mother and father.  

‘She had this writing case all the way through her life from then on, writing letters home. Letters to my dad, they were going out before the war,’ she explained. 

‘There was a grocers in the village where they lived and they both worked there for a short time while they were waiting to join up. 

Wendy, accompanied by her daughter Lois, right, was moved to tears when she saw how good the restored writing case looked at the end of the episode

Wendy thought back tears as she admired Suzie’s handiwork, saying she had given her more than an object,. she had given her memories 

‘He went to Normandy and he was in Germany for a while, so those letters would have flown backwards and forwards quite a bit, I think. 

‘And one of the things I found in this writing case, because towards the end of her life, she used it to keep special letters, was a receipt from the grocers, given from my father to my mother for the damages that she did to his shirt and trousers when they had a flower fight in the store room.

‘She was a character. So much love has gone into that, so many letters home were written from that, and it seems such a shame that it’s in this state.’

She added she hoped to see the writing case restored to what it looked like before time took a toll on it.

‘I think I’d like to see it as I remember mum using it. To see that red and looking as if it could be used without falling apart. It’d be absolutely lovely,’ she said. 

Suzie was touched by Wendy’s story and told her:  ‘I can assure you I’m going to give all I have to get this back into useful condition.’

Restoring the writing case’s leather and stitches demanded precision work, and Suzie had to be extremely careful to not damage it further.

Wendy, speaking through tears, said she was happy she could leave the case for her granddaughter 

Crying, Wendy said the case looked beautiful. She later said she was happy her granddaughter would get to use it to write 

When she was finally done with the case, Wendy and her daughter Lois came to pick it up. 

‘Being reunited with the case will be being reunited with my mum, really… and being able to pass it on to Lois,’ Wendy said. 

‘I know it’s so special to mum, and it’s a reminder of the wonderful life of my nana and it’s something I can pass down to my daughter,’ Lois agreed. 

‘I think I’m hoping to see something that reminds me of how I knew it back then, my most vivid memories, when I was a child, before it started to fade,’ Wendy added. 

Lois did the honours and uncovered the writing case. 

Wendy was immediately moved to tears as she laid eyes on her mother’s restored writing case.  

‘Gosh, it’s beautiful,’ she said, dabbing her eyes. ‘That’s so lovely’. 

She was particularly touched by the fact Suzie got through the trouble of putting paper and a pen in the writing case.   

Viewers were moved to tears and left ‘bawling’ by Wendy’s sweet story, which they said was ‘touching’

‘You’ve not just restored a writing case, you’re restored memories,’ Wendy said, adding: ‘And memories are so important to me at the moment.’

Lois was also deeply touched, saying: ‘It’s amazing having the opportunity to think about my nana and to think about the wonderful woman that she was and obviously it’s something that unites us, as four women, it’s part of our family, and something that I can treasure.’

Wendy was happy to know she could leave the case for her granddaughter.  

She added: ‘I’ve so little of my mum to leave my granddaughter and because I won’t see my granddaughter grow up, I want her to have something which meant a lot to me when I was a little girl. 

‘So that when she wants to draw, when she wants to write things, her mum can say this was your great granny’s and this was your granny’s and granny used to draw with this.’

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