Cancer survivor’s work to help others earns reward

Freya North with Brian Hedley who has received an Achievement Award from Beating Bowel Cancer, and Beating Bowel Cancer Chairman Christopher Pitchers. Picture by Nic Serpell-Rand.

Freya North with Brian Hedley who has received an Achievement Award from Beating Bowel Cancer, and Beating Bowel Cancer Chairman Christopher Pitchers. Picture by Nic Serpell-Rand.

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A tireless cancer charity volunteer has been honoured for his dedicated service with a national award.

Brian Hedley, from Shadfen near Morpeth, was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer in 2011 after two years of visiting the doctors.

He underwent surgery in 2012, followed by eight cycles of gruelling chemotherapy, which took its toll as he suffered severe side effects.

Since then the 59-year-old has been determined to help others going through similar experiences and volunteers as an online Patient Forum moderator for national charity Beating Bowel Cancer, writing thousands of posts.

He is also a member of the charity’s Patient Review Panel and contributes to other NHS groups, as well as carrying out voluntary chaplaincy work in his position as Lay Canon for Newcastle Cathedral.

As a recently retired Diocesan Assistant Director of Education for the North East, Mr Hedley continues to work as an education consultant and school inspector, but he still finds time for his charity support.

Now he has been presented with an Achievement Award for his efforts.

“I’m incredibly proud to receive this award,” he said.

“I’ve received amazing care and support from my entire medical team throughout my cancer ordeal and feel blessed that I can give something back to other cancer patients through the forum.”

Beating Bowel Cancer Digital Communications Officer Nancy Scott put Mr Hedley forward for the award.

The forum would not be able to function without people such as Brian.

Nancy Scott, Beating Bowel Cancer Digital Communications Officer

She said: “When we were looking to expand our team of volunteer forum moderators Brian was an obvious choice. He is always thoughtful and compassionate, and he clearly takes time to consider his responses.

“He is one of the longest standing members of the forum moderators’ group and he is constantly providing words of support, wisdom and encouragement to others.

“The forum would not be able to function without people such as Brian. He has made nearly 3,500 posts in his 24 months on the forum, which is incredible given his other commitments.

“He is an inspiration to us all and truly deserves this award.”

The honour was presented by the charity’s ambassador author Freya North at its annual Patient Day, which gives people the chance to hear about the latest developments in the disease, attend workshops and meet others in similar situations.

Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer, but in 90 per cent of cases it can be treated successfully if caught early.