24 APRIL 2008

Top Gear star Richard Hammond took devotion to the show's followers to new lengths on Tuesday. The presenter persuaded doctors to delay a crucial operation by two hours, so he could honour a commitment to have lunch with fans.

Richard had been due to meet the winners of a competition over lunch at upmarket celebrity hangout The Ivy restaurant in London. Unfortunately the evening before the 38-year-old experienced stomach pains. On going to the doctor he was told he'd need his appendix removing immediately.

Aware that one of the competition winners had cancelled a holiday to meet him, Richard soldiered on stoically with the appointment.

"He couldn't eat anything because the operation was a few hours afterwards," a friend told the Mirror newspaper. "After the meal they said their goodbyes and Richard checked into hospital."

The TV star – who two years ago suffered a high-speed crash while filming Top Gear - said afterwards the pain wasn't "too bad" and compared the operation to having a tooth out. Amazingly he'll have to go back to hospital next week as during the procedure surgeons found he also has kidney stones and a hernia.

Photo: ©
The Top Gear star decided an operation to remove his appendix would have to wait as he'd promised to accompany Top Gear viewers to lunch at an upmarket London restaurant. He kept his date with the competition winners - and then checked into hospitalClick on photo to enlarge