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Sports star thanks medics who helped him defy odds

Posted onPosted on 5th Feb

Gifted snooker player Dave Bolton feared he would never play again after he almost died.

Now, after scooping tournament medals and titles at home and abroad in the past six months, the Sutton man has thanked the medics who made it possible.

Among Dave’s success was a bronze medal at the World AbilitySport Games in Thailand, as well as winning World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) titles.

Dave, who had Crohn’s disease, was rushed into King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton, with a clot blocking the blood supply to his bowel in September 2022.

Emergency surgery to remove most of his bowel left him potentially facing a lifetime of intravenous feeds.

“I woke up in King’s Mill from a coma,” he said. “They had told my wife, Michelle, that I might not make it.”

The surgery meant Dave needed an intravenous feed for 12 hours a day, every day. He was transferred to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, and its Intestinal Failure (IF) team.

“For patients like Dave, eating and drinking like they used to is severely detrimental to their health,” said Helen Kirkwood, clinical nurse specialist.

The IF team built Dave up, and organised a homecare and training package to enable him to go home to some sort of new normality.

The team again swung into action when he was invited to represent Great Britain in the World AbilitySport Games in Thailand in December.

Transporting his food and equipment in coolboxes, using a 170kg luggage allowance, and creating a strict feeding schedule was no easy feat.

Making this work around an equally strict playing schedule — and with an eight-hour time difference — was tough, but the IF team did it.

And Dave made it all worthwhile, scooping a bronze medal in his Group 5 category.

Dave said: “I am very thankful for the hard work and effort of the IF team — and everyone on F22 — to (help me) get to Thailand.”

Michelle added: “Dave’s ambition is to be the best of the best with his snooker.

“It’s like winning the lottery to see his face when he wins. He has gone through so much… I am so proud to call him my husband.”

Dave has been an avid snooker fan since he was eight, inspired by the sport’s legend, Jimmy White, who lived down the road from him in Tooting, London.

“He used to wash my grandad’s car to raise money to play snooker in the local snooker hall,” recalled Dave.

“I got a child’s snooker table for Christmas when I was eight — and that was that.”

Dave moved to Nottinghamshire when he was 13 and as a top-flight amateur, with a highest break of 142, he played against professionals in pro-am tournaments until he became ill.

At the end of last year, he hit 140, his highest break since the emergency surgery.

“I’ve come such a long way,” he added. “The IF team has put that smile back on my face. I used to have more downs than up, but that has reversed now.

“When I hit rock bottom, King’s Mill nurse Paul Manning made me see the light at the end of the tunnel, reassuring me that the specialists at QMC would get me on the road to recovery. He went above and beyond.”

Clinical nurse specialist Julie Murray added: “Dave always had his sense of humour, even in the dark times. He wasn’t hard to look after.”

Scott Shaw, IF network coordinator, said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to have helped Dave fulfil his dreams. His strength and resilience is exceptional and he is an inspiration to all our patients.”

Before playing in Thailand last year, Dave won the WDBS UK Disability Snooker Championship, and the German Open.

In January this year he added the WDBS British Open title to his success and he is currently preparing for the Belgium Open this month.

Michelle said: “From the bottom of my heart, I’d like to thank all the staff at King’s Mill and QMC; we could not have done this without your continuing support and help.”

Dave concluded: “Something really good has come out of something really bad.

“I’d been told I’d never play again, but I never give up. There’s a saying — it’s not the size of the dog, it’s the fight in the dog — and this is what I live by, day to day!”