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Brave Conall first to ring children’s ward ‘end of treatment bell’

05 July 2017

Health Care

After 14 rounds of chemotherapy over the last 18 months and the removal of his lower right leg, Conall Riley, aged 9, from Westcliff has been declared as being in remission for Ewings Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

In celebration of this fantastic news, brave Conall became the first Neptune Children's Ward patient at Southend Hospital to ring the 'end of treatment bell'. It's quite literally sounding the end of something that has dominated his family's life for what has seemed like an eternity.

Mum, Cara, said: "This last year and a half has been a rollercoaster of emotions, you just don't see an end to it and is just one treatment after the next. It has been a life-changing experience and the ringing of this bell hopefully signifies an end to it."

The clanging of the bell drew a crowd of well-wishing nurses and staff from the ward to applaud Conall and his family, which helped give this momentous event a real sense of occasion. It was an emotional one and dad, Jim, couldn't thank everyone who has helped them reach this point enough.

He said: "Neptune is amazing; there is a real feeling of community and love here. We were included in everything and Conall was treated as an individual, not just as a patient."

And a sense of normality is now also returning for the Riley family as he has just started back at school.

The Peters family, from Rayleigh, were also part of the crowd that saw Conall ring the 'end of treatment bell', it was they who instigated the idea for the bell to be placed on Neptune Ward after seeing the success of a similar bell in Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Four year-old Toby Peters is half way through his three-and-a-half year treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Toby and his family, including mum Heather, dad Warren and 7 year old brother Noah, wanted to give something back to Neptune Ward in the form of the bell, as their way of saying thank you to the staff for their hard work and dedication.

Heather contacted the End of Treatment Bell Charity run by Tracey Payton in association with the Maria Watt Foundation, who aim to place these bells into hospitals nationally and internationally, for children and adults with cancer to ring when they complete their treatment.

Heather said: "I remember seeing the bell at GOSH and feeling a renewed sense of determination that Toby was going to make it to the end of treatment and was going to ring the bell.

"We wanted to give something back to every single member of staff on Neptune Ward, who always make us feel so welcome and secure."

Play Specialist, Lisa Kawa-Akenbo, said: "The bell is an important milestone for families reaching the end of treatment. It also holds real significance for the staff, as we spend so much time with these wonderful children and their relatives and we look forward to seeing our patients ringing the bell and celebrating that occasion with them."

The hope now is that Toby will follow in the bell ringing footsteps of Conall at the end of his treatment in Autumn 2018.

ENDS

Image:l-r Mum, Cara Riley, Conall Riley and dad, Jim Riley