Classic car drive a remarkable milestone on road to recovery

June 01 2018
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WHEN Peter Butler drove his treasured MG on to Wells Cathedral Green in the Mendip Vintage & Classic Car Tour it was the end of a particularly long journey.

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago, undergoing an 11-hour operation and enduring long bouts of chemotherapy, he wondered whether he would ever get behind the wheel of his car again.

But of the dozens of drivers parking their vehicles on the Cathedral Green for onlookers to admire, Peter, who lives in Wells, had the biggest smile.

“This is a huge day for me,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned I’ve made the longest journey today. I shouldn’t be here really.”

It was Peter’s first drive in his 1952 MGTD after surgery, and his nephew travelled with him ready to take over at the wheel in case it got too much.

“You remember lying in the hospital bed and wondering whether you’ll ever do it again,” said Peter. “I wanted to do it. It was the first big challenge of coming back.”

He said that one side-effect of chemotherapy had been numb fingers and feet. He also lost his hair: “It’s come back curly. People think I’ve had a perm.”

Peter’s father was a director of Sheldons in Wells. He himself used to be a TV commentator and then producer with his own weekly show (The Fastrax) on Sky Sports, eventually finishing up in Qatar as the TV director for their world powerboat teams.

Now he wants to give hope to other people that they too can overcome the fears of cancer and find enjoyment in life.

“It is easy to get down and to think what’s the point in carrying on? Positivity will carry you through,” he said.

“At the moment my pancreas and liver are clear. I’m in remission which means I’ve got years, but who knows?”

A classical music lover, one day he would like to organise a series of fundraising concerts around the country, and encourage people to talk more openly about cancer.

He has also bought a caravan which he plans to make available to people with cancer who want to get away for a break.

More than 150 vehicles took part in this year’s 100-mile Mendip tour, which is organised by the Classic & Historic Motor Club, and for which Macmillan Cancer Support was once again the nominated charity.

To complete his own vintage look for the day, Peter bought a suitcase and a striped blazer on eBay. It made him smile even more than he was already when somebody in a similar blazer approached him on the Cathedral Green and asked whether they had gone to the same school.