GOLF professional Chris Cole is using his own successful fight against cancer as motivation to help others.
The 50-year-old Cole, whose father Malcolm coached Hartlepool’s Graeme Storm to the British Amateur Championship in 1999, became one of the youngest pros in the country when he took over at Beamish Park in County Durham as a 23-year-old.
When he was 46 Cole went into hospital for a routine hernia operation to discover he had testicular cancer.
Just over four months later he was back at work following six successive 21-day spells of chemotherapy and an operation.
“You have to think positively,” he said. “It helped I have always kept myself fit, I have never smoked and hardly ever have a drink.
“But where would I have been without the wonderful people at the Freeman Hospital, especially my specialist, Dr Ashraf Azzabi?
““Everything surrounding my treatment was so slick, precise and well organised, I shall always be grateful to them.
“I had one hell of a battle but in the end things went well. The Beamish members were great and they all rallied round.”
Actions rather than words were the first thing on the agenda when Cole pitched up back in the pro’s shop.
More recently, this has led to a full-scale Charlie Bear Fund Golf Day being played at bonny Beamish.
This year it is on Tuesday, July 1 followed by a black tie dinner at Beamish Hall Hotel on Friday, July 18.
After Cole’s treatment, the first full round of golf he played was in a 2011 Charlie Bear day at Linden Hall with the help of a buggy.
He had campaigned fanatically on behalf of the Freeman to raise the profile of the Charlie Bear Fund and his popularity doubled the amount of teams who entered at Linden that year.
The event was also a success at Linden in 2012 and last season brought a proud moment for Cole when Beamish hosted a Charlie Bear event for the first time, raising £9,225 for the Northern Centre for Cancer at the Freeman.
It was an emotional moment as Cole and Jim Cockburn, a Beamish member and another relentless driving force behind the event, presented the cheque to Dr Azzabi, at the Freeman.
Cole added: “I have no qualms about begging any golfers who would enjoy playing our lovely Henry Cotton course at Beamish to support the golf day and our dinner.
“It was Dr Azzabi’s expertise which saved my life and my ambition is to keep raising the bar every year and make more and more money for the Charlie Bear fund every time.”
Beamish chairman George Hanlon, a former director of Rolls Royce Marine, said: “Chris is greatly respected and admired through the club not just for how he overcame the challenges faced by him during his treatment and recovery, but also for the time and energy he personally, together with the team, puts into the Charlie Bear event each year.
“This event is going from strength to strength each year due to the commitment and fortitude of Chris and the team from Beamish Park.”
* For information about the Charlie Bear Golf Day and Dinner at Beamish, contact Chris Cole on 0191 370 1984, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jim Cockburn on 07868 752146, email@example.com