THEY did it! The family and friends of St Neots leukaemia patient Damian Stone have renovated his home in time for his return from hospital.

While Mr Stone was in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, his friends and family undertook a DIY SOS challenge to re-decorate the downstairs of his Howitt's Gardens home ... in just four weeks and with a bit of help from Hunts Post readers.

Time was made increasingly more precious after the 33-year-old responded so well to treatment that he was expected to leave hospital a week early.

He was sent home on Thursday but, as the house was not ready, Wyboston Lakes gave Mr Stone and wife Kylee a complimentary suite until Saturday, giving the volunters time to clean up.

"Coming home, there was a big pile of rubbish out front, and Kylee said that they had repainted the front room to make it nice for me," he said. "Then I walked in and saw the new kitchen, new staircase, new front room. It was amazing. I still can't believe it. When I was in hospital I was thinking we couldn't have the home in a mess like I left it when I went into hospital. I was half dreading coming back home because of it."

As well as Mrs Stone, 30, keeping the project a secret, the couple's two girls Bobbie, five, and Eryn, three, were also sworn to secrecy.

The Hunts Post featured the DIY project three weeks ago, with one generous reader donating £5,000 to help the family. Mr Stone added: "I don't know how they kept it a secret and I don't know where they got the ability to lie so well from either. With Kylee holding things back from me as well, they must have got it from her! But now Kylee has told me about everything and I'd like to thank everyone involved, and send a special thank you to the anonymous donor through The Hunts Post."

Mr Stone, who will start his second course of chemotherapy next week, said his time in hospital, away from his family, had been tough.

"To go from being told that I had a viral infection in my liver to two hours later when they said I had leukaemia was really hard. The realisation that I wouldn't be seeing my girls didn't sink in straight away but, when you're in hospital, there's nothing to do and I really started to miss them - I didn't see my youngest for five weeks."

It was because of this that Mrs Stone and her friends started a Facebook group to raise money for an iPad to allow her husband to talk to his daughters.

"Raising money for the iPad was amazing. I never expected that. I didn't realise how nice people were," Mr Stone said.

Mrs Stone added: "There are many others we would like to thank for their daily practical and emotional support especially those helping with the girls and making sure we were OK, and for all the little things like bringing us dinner and keeping me company in the evenings."