A WELL-known figure in the South Lakes who has been treated for cancer is giving something back to those who helped save his life.

Queen Katherine School head teacher Stephen Wilkinson will complete a sponsored abseil on Sunday to help raise awareness of oesophageal cancer, which is said to be particularly common in the north of England.

Mr Wilkinson also aims to raise money for the Northern Oesophagi–Gastric Cancer Unit at The Royal Victoria Infirmary run by Professor Michael Griffin.

It will be the head’s second abseil down the side of the 12-storey Malmaison Hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Quayside, He said: “I am doing the abseil because I want to support the medical facility that saved my life.”

His link with the unit goes back to February, 2006, when Professor Griffin performed a lifesaving six-hour operation to repair Mr Wilkinson’s oesophagus ruptured during a medical procedure to treat Achalasia.

He is not an oesophageal cancer sufferer – but has a significantly increased chance of contracting the disease due to the Achalasia.

Mr Wilkinson said: “With good education, information and early intervention, much more progress could be made to prevent the necessity for surgery.”

Speaking of the abseil, he said: “I have to say I am feeling more and more nervous by the day – not only for me, but for my son Chris, who is a doctor at the RVI and is also doing the abseil.

“My aim in brief is to help raise awareness, raise some money and get a buzz.”

The event will also highlight symptoms people should look out for, including feeling full earlier than you would expect when eating, persistent reflux, excessive or unexplained weight loss, swallowing difficulties or regurgitating food.