New bell is symbol of hope

Stephen Buckley rings the bell at castle Hill Hospital to mark the end of his treatment, accompanied by radiographer Lydia Dearing, who came up with the idea.
Stephen Buckley rings the bell at castle Hill Hospital to mark the end of his treatment, accompanied by radiographer Lydia Dearing, who came up with the idea.

After ringing the bell to signify the end of his cancer treatment, a Bridlington patient has praised the NHS staff who helped during his battle.

A new bell has been installed at Castle Hill Hospital and is used to celebrate the end of treatment - a symbol which was initially used a children’s cancer wards.

Stephen Buckley, 72, has just completed radiotherapy after an eight-month fight against prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with last October.

He said: “I owe my life to the NHS. I’ve survived a broken neck and a heart attack in my time, but when I was diagnosed this time, it shocked me to the core.

“I was told I’d need a course of 20 radiotherapy sessions which I began after Christmas, so I’ve been travelling daily from Bridlington for treatment, that’s 1,200 miles in total.

“Ringing the end of treatment bell is something I’ve been looking forward to since day one. Every day I walked past it, I thought ‘I shall be ringing that bell off the wall soon’.

“Personally it’s been a very stressful time, for me and my family, but the staff have been brilliant, they’re all so knowledgeable and helpful, and we always have a bit of banter.

“I’ve made friends with quite a few of the other patients too who have been coming for treatment at the same time, so we’ve been supporting each other and getting each other through. It’s really been like coming into a family environment.

“On my last day, I definitely had mixed feelings. It felt strange to think I was having my last treatment but I was happy too - it’s all been five star, I cannot thank the NHS enough.”

The bell was the idea of NHS Trust therapy radiographer, Lydia Dearing. She said: “For those who are going through a bit of a tough time, it can give hope or help to remind them that there is an end in sight.

“We’ve had loved ones bring in their families and balloons when it’s been time to ring the bell to make it a real celebration, and we’ve had groups of patients who have made friends during the course of their treatment all come in to support each other when they ring the bell.

“It’s not for everyone, but for many, and in particular those whose treatment has lasted a long time and maybe included surgery or chemotherapy, it signifies a significant milestone and what will hopefully be the start of their recovery.”