Our Life President is David Kirby who established the OPA in 1985
Bob Mason - Chairman
Damien Cassidy - Treasurer
Haward Soper - Secretary
David Kirby - Life President
The Oesophageal Patients Association (OPA) was founded in 1985 by David Kirby following his recovery from oesophageal cancer. Curative treatment involves major surgery which inevitably results in some long term digestive problems. David found that talking to new patients about his own experience was immensely helpful to them as they faced their own treatment, and could improve their attitude of mind. David visited patients in hospital every week for many years and spoke at conferences in the UK and abroad. He was awarded an OBE in 2000 and the OPA has expanded with many branches around the UK. David is life time President for the OPA.
Bob Mason - Chairman
Professor Bob Mason was the third generation to attend medical school in Manchester. He obtained a BSc (1st) in Anatomy in 1973 and graduated MB ChB with Honours in 1976. After initial appointments in Manchester he moved to the professorial Unit in Edinbugh where he obtained his FRCSEd and an MD in breast cancer research. In 1981 he moved to Guys Hospital London where he completed his higher surgical training and obtained his ChM for research in gastric cancer. He was appointed Senior Lecturer and Consultant Surgeon at Guys Hospital in 1986 and has remained at Guys and St Thomas Hospital ever since.
He was instrumental in building up the Upper GI unit, which has an international reputation for the treatment of oesphagogastric cancer and acts as a national centre for salvage and reconstruction following failed upper GI Surgery. He has been active in research with over 140 publications and supervised 8 higher degrees. He was appointed Hon Professor of GI Surgery in Kings College London in 2010 in respect of his clinical and research leadership.
He has always maintained a major interest in education especially postgraduate surgical training. He has been an examiner for the MRCS and FRCS exams for 20 years and for 3 years was convenor of examinations for the RCS Edinburgh. In recognition of his contribution to education he was appointed Hon Fellow of the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong in 2012 and has delivered prestigious lectures to the Association of Surgeons of India, The Association of Surgeons of New Zealand, The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the College of Surgeons of Hong Kong.
Outside work he is a keen golfer and enjoys fell walking and opera.
I am a 43 years old consultant oesophagogastric and laparoscopic surgeon at the Norfolk & Norwich University Foundation Trust, who specialises in minimally invasive oesophagectomy (MIO) for cancer. I graduated from the University College Cork in Ireland, did my specialist registrar surgical training in the Eastern region in England, and then I completed a year fellowship in minimally invasive oesophagectomy in Pittsburgh, USA with Professor J. Luketich. The year I spent at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh was the most illuminating time of my career. It enabled me to set up MIO and endoscopic treatment for early oesophageal cancer, such as radiofrequency ablation of the oesophagus and endoscopic mucosal resection. I am also the Upper GI Cancer Lead at the Norfolk & Norwich University Foundation Trust. For the last four years, we changed the way things were done for oesophageal and gastric cancer surgery; and today we have one of the best outcomes after oesophageal and gastric cancer surgery in UK. Outside work, I love sports! I do long distance running (Half marathons races) and cycling; I used to play international school rugby, and now I watch rugby and football with great interest.
Damien Cassidy - Treasurer
Damien joined British Gas Eastern in October 1988 as an Assistant Auditor. In 1990, Damien was promoted to the role of Auditor reviewing financial and operational business processes in the UK and reporting control weaknesses to national management teams up to Director level.
Damien continued to work in this role during the re-organisation of the company working in the Lattice Group, BG Group and then National Grid Transco following the merger with National Grid. Damien was promoted to the role of Senior Internal Auditor and continued at this level in National Grid prior to leaving on voluntary severance in February 2014.
Damien has also gained considerable experience in investigating fraud and malpractice assisting with civil and criminal proceedings and undertaking disciplinary interviews and attending tribunals.
Damien set up his Cloud Bookkeeping Practice in March/April 2014 to help clients maintain up to date financial records by processing and recording financial transactions in their daybooks.
Haward Soper - Secretary
Haward studied law at Dundee and researched law at Leicester and is now retired after having spent 35 years in commercial and contracts and process roles with various companies including Shell, Siemens, GEC and British Shipbuilders working in Ardersier, Port Glasgow, Gateshead, Leicester, Lincoln, Duisburg, the Hague and Kuala Lumpur. Haward has been living with his partner for 28 years. He's now doing a PhD in contract law at Leicester University. Haward has a range of esoteric legal interests; too boring to list here. He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in February 2013 while working in Kuala Lumpur and had five weeks of chemo and radio therapy in Kuala Lumpur and returned to the UK for surgery which was carried out at the Royal Marsden. He feels very lucky, having made a very good recovery , travelling around the world late last year without incident, and approached the OPA after reading the January 2014 Newsletter and wondering what he could do to help.
His work for the OPA is about governance and "paperwork" – so that others don't have to do it.
Other interests are photography, collecting modern ceramics, reading (mainly detective fiction), cooking, watching Leicestershire County Cricket Club stick to the bottom of the league and blogging on the Guardian Comment is Free section. Beer used to be a hobby but since they removed 25% of his stomach that's not really a hobby any more.
Having graduated from Keele University with a Joint BA in Economics and Law, Phil worked for Lloyds Bank for 30 years in a variety of roles up to and including Senior Management. He describes his Banking career as being a “Jack of all trades but master of none”! He then spent 5 years as a School Business Manager before retiring in 2008.
In late 2012 he was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and spent 2013 on the familiar path of chemotherapy followed by an Ivor-Lewis operation in April. Just for good measure – and to round the year off in style – he had a kidney removed in December! So much for 2013!
In collaboration with the Upper GI staff at Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra hospital Phil helped to set up the OPA Branch for the Portsmouth and South Hampshire area (OPA-SPLASH) and acts as the Branch Coordinator for this very successful group. His passion now is to set up and drive forward the OPA strategy on Creating Awareness of this type of cancer. His other interests include playing golf, supporting Hull City (well someone’s got to!) walking, and acting as a School Governor.
Hilary is three years post oesophagetomy, and having returned to full time work afterwards, now feels it is time to retire and take things a little easier. She firmly believes in the benefit of the support that OPA members can offer to each other to complement the support offered by the medical teams.
Born in Bristol she has spent all her adult life in Wales and has earned her Welsh passport! Having three grown up children, three grandchildren and two grand-dogs keeps her busy along with walking, cooking and gardening. Hilary has recently joined the very active South wales branch of OPA.
Hilary has a finance background, having worked in the both public and private sectors, with jobs as diverse as internal audit at a health authority to costing Harveys’ sherries. The last 28 years have been spent working for housing associations, specialising in scheme appraisal and funding, whilst the last six year she has been Chief Executive of a housing association that houses vulnerable people, specialising in those with learning disabilities, and Veterans. She is experienced in governance, working with voluntary boards and preparing and reviewing accounts.
Barry Moorefield has been self-employed for 18 years carrying out general house maintenance and kitchen and bathroom fitting. He has been married to his partner for 24 years.
Barry was diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer in early 2010 when he was 49 years old, his initial symptoms were just getting food stuck, he never actually felt unwell. Imagine how shocked Barry and his wife were when it was diagnosed as serious but with the help of the Specialist Nurses, Staff and Surgeons at the Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital (LHCH), the treatment and the operation went extremely well, although recovery at first was very slow.
Following a request from Barry's Surgeon, Mr Richard Page, he became the NW Area Rep for the OPA which involved co-ordinating meetings twice a year in the Liverpool area and he also helped to run a monthly meeting at the LHCH Hospital which is called the Little & Often Meeting, both these valuable meetings have excellent support from the Staff at the hospital.
Now 4 years post surgery, Barry can't do the physical work that he used to do but he has now changed slightly his career path and he's now a self-employed photographer (which used to be a hobby) and he works in his family run Florist & Gift Shop. He's now started to produce personalised items and has made a range for the OPA to help to raise their awareness and to fundraise.
Philip retired in 2015 after 20 years nursing as a second career, before which he had been a curator, researcher, writer and lecturer in the field of art museums and galleries. He is also a carer for his survivor partner who had surgery for oesophageal cancer in 2005. Philip divides his time between London, where he continues occasionally to do some research and writing on the history of art collecting and dealing, and west Wales, where Peter now lives.