THE niece of a “selfless and kindhearted hero” has revealed her uncle suffered a stroke moments before crashing into a high street bakery.

Richard Tillyer’s Renault Laguna smashed into Hume’s Bakery in Halstead on Sunday evening.

Mr Tillyer, 45, from Halstead, was taken to Colchester General Hospital in a life-threatening condition.

His niece Samantha Barrett said Mr Tillyer, who has not had any serious previous medical complications, had a potentially devastating stroke while he was behind the wheel which caused him to lose control of his vehicle.

She said: “He experienced a brain haemorrhage causing a large aneurysm in the front of his brain.

“He was sent to Colchester Hospital where he was stabilised and then they transferred him to Queen’s Hospital in Romford in an air ambulance.”

After arriving at Queen’s Hospital he underwent the first of several lifesaving brain operations.

Samantha said his family were told he had just a 29 per cent chance of survival. Thankfully, the operation was successful, however, the next high-risk procedure cannot be carried out until neurologists can restore Mr Tillyer’s consciousness.

Samantha said: “His beautiful life is in their hands as me and the rest of our family hope for further success but I would really love to thank the neurologists.

“He has no children but has never failed to treat every one of his nieces and nephews like his own and he is an extremely selfless and kind-hearted hero.”

Samantha has also extended her thanks to the former firefighter who smashed the locked car’s passenger side window with a hammer in order to get to My Tillyer.

After entering the vehicle, Peter Ballisat, 26, successfully cleared Mr Tillyer’s airwaves and, alongside resident Simon Edney and another man, stayed with the driver until emergency services arrived.

Gazette: HERO: Ex-firefighter Peter BallisatHERO: Ex-firefighter Peter Ballisat

Peter, who lives opposite Hume’s Bakery, left the Halstead Fire Brigade after six years of service last July but he said he went straight into “firefighter mode” after hearing the crash.

He said: ‘‘I just knew I had to get in and get him breathing again.

‘‘I have been trained to do these sorts of things, so I just went into firefighter mode.

‘‘I’m not a superhero in the slightest.

“Simon should be highly commended for his part because, for him it was totally new whereas I was just doing what I had to do to keep the guy alive."