Tributes paid to brave young farmer who lost his life after seven-year battle with cancer

The Westmorland Gazette: Craig Bell Craig Bell

A BRAVE young farmer has lost his battle with a brain tumour after a fight which lasted almost seven years.

Holme-born Craig Bell, who died at 34, has been hailed for his endless positivity by heartbroken parents, Stephen and Patricia Bell, who said their son ‘continued to smile until the end’.

“He fought so bravely,” said Mrs Bell, 59. “He really did. He still wanted to work on the family farm and in the last few days before his death he was still making plans and looking at how the farm could go forward.

“He was always very positive. He loved life – it’s what we all loved about him, that he loved life and wanted more of it.”

Around 500 people turned out to Mr Bell’s funeral following his death in hospital on March 12.

The keen motor sport enthusiast had been suffering a grade four brain tumour, which is the most aggressive and hardest to treat.

The family has since called for more awareness and research into the often-terminal disease, and South Lakes MP, Tim Farron, has agreed to take the fight to the Government.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Mr and Mrs Bell after the tragic death of their son,” he said.

“I will lobby the Government on this issue and do whatever I can to get the Government to do more to deal with this awful disease.”

Mr Bell was first diagnosed in 2007 and his family watched him beat cancer once, after he defied the prognosis of UK doctors by seeking treatment in the US.

Just weeks after having brain surgery, which he had to remain awake for, he was back at work.

But in 2012 the tumour returned. Despite aggressive chemotherapy, Mrs Bell was told on December 24 that her son would not live to see the following Christmas.

He died after being admitted to hospital for pain relief.

“It’s such a big miss,” she continued. “It’s just left such a huge hole in our lives. It’s a horrendous disease and it’s destroyed so much.”

Mr Bell was brought up in Holme, on a farm part-owned by his family, and attended Holme Primary School and Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale.

After school he gained experience working on a farm at Tewitfield, Carnforth, before moving to Eden with his family to run their own business. In 2001, at just 21, he guided the farm through the foot-and-mouth crisis and proved himself a great ‘all-round’ farmer.

“He loved the farm,” said Mrs Bell. “He was the heart and soul of the place.”

She added he was a caring sibling to younger brother Ashley, a loving grandson and a ‘great’ uncle to niece Caitlin.

“He’s left us lovely memories and he’s left us a lovely legacy,” added Mrs Bell.

At his funeral dozens of people - including his ‘soulmate’ Michelle - poured out their grief, paying tribute to the ‘considerate and loving’ young man.

Around £1,800 has since been donated by friends and family, which will be split between The Brain Tumour Charity and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

* WITH Brain Tumour Awareness Month almost at an end, calls have been made for more awareness and research into the disease.
Patricia and Stephen Bell, who watched their son as he battled an aggressive form of the illness, say they believe more needs to be done.
“It is one of the biggest killers in Craig’s age group,” said Mrs Bell.
“But it doesn’t get enough money for research. It’s the Cinderella of cancers.
“It’s becoming a more and more frequent diagnosis.”
The Brain Tumour Research charity wants people to join in ‘wear a hat day’, tomorrow, to ‘keep brain tumour research front of mind’.

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