I’ll beat cancer for the sake of my grandson

August 29 2018
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THE chief marshal at Wells Carnival for more than 20 years, Martin Coppell, has vowed to beat the cancer he has been diagnosed with for the sake of his newborn grandson.

Martin is awaiting an operation after discovering that he had the rare bile duct cancer just two weeks after the birth of his first grandchild, Alfie.

“He’s my inspiration. He’s my angel,” said Martin, aged 57.

“He’s come into my life to make sure I’m around to take him to school. I want to play football with my grandson. I want to do the normal things granddad’s do. I’m not going to let anything stand in the way of that.”

Lorry driver Martin was at Musgrove Park Hospital in July for Alfie’s birth by emergency caesarean and started to feel unwell soon afterwards, which he put down to the heat and the anxiety.

But in the days that followed he began to be sick and have dizzy spells, until he was too unwell to drive home after making a delivery.

After a number of tests, a doctor at the same hospital where Alfie was born told Martin that he had cancer.

“I paused, and said, ‘Right, what are we going to do to beat it then?’,” said Martin.

“I was determined right from the start that I was going to beat this. I kept saying: ‘I’m not going yet, I’m not going down without a fight’.”

Martin has been involved in carnival for more than 40 years, since joining Mendip Vale Carnival Club as a 13-year-old, and is the longest serving chief marshal in Somerset.

He will be chief marshal in Wells again this year, though he will reduce the number of meetings he attends.

“I love it so much. It’s been my life,” he said. “Once a year you feel proud. As soon as you step over the line with that first cart, it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stick up.”

Martin told committee members about his illness at the Wells Carnival AGM at The Britannia Inn, and explained that he would not be able to do as much as in previous years.

“We’re 100 per cent behind Martin fighting for his health, carnival comes second,” said president Maurice Day.

An appeal was made for more volunteers to help before, during and after the carnival with tasks such as marshalling and putting out road signs and barriers. People interested should email vice-chairman Charlotte Broom: charlottewellscarnival@gmail.com

It was also pointed out that local organisations can earn money by collecting on carnival night and counting afterwards, earning themselves 40 per cent of the proceeds.

Last year’s street collection in Wells totalled £14,071, it was revealed, whereas in 2016, when it rained, £7,294 was collected.

Programme sales in 2017 made £4,468 compared to £1,288 the year before, traders brought in £3,185 compared to £2,225, and donations received were £1,034 compared to £105.

The committee decided that there will be no Carnival Queen competition this year.

Wells Carnival takes place on Friday, November 16.