We’d gone for a weekend in the Cotswolds and taken our little border collie pup. On the last day, we’d been round all the cute villages, and I was playing football with her when it started.

The pain was similar to that of food poisoning at first, but within 10 minutes I was in excruciating pain. My girlfriend rang for an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they had to pull my hands off my chest - I was clawing at my chest because of the pain!

I was taken to hospital and for 24 hours I can’t remember a lot; I was in and out of consciousness with the pain. Tests showed I had developed pancreatitis. After a fortnight I started to show signs of recovery, but I was losing so much weight. I was 97.8 kilos in hospital and when I left three weeks later, I was 80 kilos.

During the next 12 months I had several more attacks; each time becoming weaker and weaker. I was still trying to carry on with the farm work but the pain was making it almost impossible.

And the pain; I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

At Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital I underwent tests to see just how badly my pancreas had been affected. The tests showed that I had a five centimetres long pseudocyst. At a follow-up appointment and it had increased to seven centimetres, by week three it had grown to nine centimetres. After four unsuccessful attempts to drain it, I had an operation to remove it. But within three weeks the cyst came back again and grew to 12 centimetres. It was obvious that this was not going to be so easily resolved so the decision was taken to remove my gall bladder and pancreatic duct. They also re-drained the pseudocyst.

While I recovered from the operation, my pancreas didn’t. It had begun to die and I was again in excruciating pain. Various treatments were tried to save the pancreas without success, meaning an operation to remove it was the only solution.
Every step of the way there has been one person behind me, supporting me, which I owe my life to. That is Daren - Dr Subar. He is the most amazing person I have ever met! An absolutely fantastic surgeon, wonderful person and a mate for life.

When I was admitted for surgery I was terrified. I had been informed of all the risks. A 50/50 chance of getting through it. Bleeding out on the table if a main vein is hit. Ten to twelve hours in surgery. I am strong, tough and have a high pain threshold, but it crippled me. I was brought to tears, I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. But the theatre team were outstanding. They reassured me, I felt comforted that they would do everything they could to save my life. Before closing my eyes I glanced at the clock; it was 8:04am.

I came round from the anaesthetic to Dr Subar asking if I could see the clock; it was three minutes past 12. I thought the operation had taken just four hours, but he explained it was the following morning. I had been in theatre for 15 hours.

The care I received on Intensive Care and Ward C14 was exceptional; the nurses were worth their weight in gold. I couldn’t have asked for a better hospital, better nurses or a better surgeon. I don’t think I’d have got through it without Daren and his team. Thank you for giving me back my life. 

I can’t say how amazing the feeling is to get my life back.