Rail union official’s brave cancer fight

David Dean
David Dean

A WIGAN trade union stalwart has spoken of his determination to remain optimistic despite being diagnosed with a life-limiting form of cancer.

David Dean, from Scholes, started work on the region’s railways at Spring Branch in Lower Ince in 1971 and has also spent almost 40 years as a member of industry union the RMT.

However, earlier this year David, of Derby House, was stunned to be told pancreatic cancer, which he had previously battled in 2012 and been given the all-clear in 2013, had returned.

He was put onto chemotherapy but was informed this could not cure the cancer but merely slow down the tumour’s growth.

The union has rallied round in his hour of need, organising a celebration of David’s career at Little Fifteen on Wallgate next week with many RMT national officials expected to make the trip to Wigan.

David, 64, said: “When I got the news earlier this year I was shocked, and my family was devastated when I told them.

“I was told I had six months to live in June but a second consultant at Liverpool Royal said chemotherapy could extend my life a bit longer.

“I have to keep positive about it. I just take each day as it comes, live for today and forget tomorrow. No-one knows what’s around the corner, do they?

“I’m not too bothered by it, I’m not in pain or anything like that. I have a shedful of tablets to take but they do help me and I feel fine.”

David started working in transport as his dad had previously worked in railways in Barrow-in-Furness and told his son the sector might provide secure lifelong employment.

He began working as a guard, dealing mainly with freight services but also taking on work for passenger services connecting Wigan’s stations with the rest of the North West. He said; “We mainly dealt with freight trains, it was all the coal trains going from Bickershaw Colliery to Fiddler’s Ferry and from the pits at Parkside and Golborne.

“We also worked the freightliners going from Trafford Park to Carlisle and when it was quiet we would cover Wigan Wallgate passenger services.

“We also did charter trains from Wigan to Blackpool, it was a real variety to what we did.

“We also regulated the trains coming in and out of the sidings, coming from as far afield as Scotland and Bristol. We would do that on computer, then when they arrived would ensure they were stabled before sending them out somewhere else.”

Following the part-privatisation of British Rail David moved to Warrington, where he worked from 1989 until 2006 when he retired from the railways.

He moved back to the borough last year to be closer to his two brothers.