A Melksham ace engineering company has been revealed as the secret specialists behind a fix it challenge for the BBC’s Speedshop reality TV show, which made a dream come true for a special forces war hero.

BBC2 viewers recently saw The Speedshop star and custom motorbike builder Titch Cormack grappling with how to fit a sidecar to a Royal Enfield bike so that Toby Gutteridge, his old pal from the Special Boat Service and a former biker, could go for a ride and feel the wind through his hair again.

But this was no ordinary engineering project – as Toby had been left paralysed after he was shot in the neck while serving in Afghanistan, and he is kept alive by a portable ventilator system fitted to his wheelchair.

Not only did the sidecar have to be adapted so that the ventilator could fit in it alongside Toby, it had to be made super-safe and stable in attaching to the bike because, as Titch says in the programme, “if Toby gets jiggled around all over the place, he’s got his ventilator in his neck and if those tubes get unplugged then that would be disastrous”.

So Titch turned to Protech, the Melksham company that hand-builds high specification shock absorbers, as the project required the most precise engineering that could allow for no margin for error.

Wiltshire Times: Tim Manning and Alex Powell of Protech of MelkshamTim Manning and Alex Powell of Protech of Melksham

Protech director Tim Manning said: “We were really excited when we were contacted by the Speedshop team, it was such a great challenge to be a part of.”

He added: “This piece of engineering had to be beyond exact and so we created a 10-inch open shock absorber with a rubber bush top and bottom. We also fitted a 1.9-inch id spring and created a bleed to the valving so the damping would be softer.”

Titch had instructed that the ride had to be comfortable for Toby, especially when riding over potholes, as viewers saw recently when Speedshop showed Toby taking the ride he longed for.

Tim said: “To see the final results of their work on the show was exciting for us all. Watching Toby safely back on the road and enjoying the thrill that he used to experience was a great reward for everyone involved.

“We regularly produce bespoke engineered shocks for specialist commissions, but few are as endearing as this one. And to be known as the brand to be trusted with the high specification that was needed is great endorsement indeed.”

‘Sidecar’, the first episode of the second series of The Speedshop, can be viewed here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episodes/m0015nyh/the-speedshop