After having symptoms for nearly 5 years, in July 2015 (aged 24) I was finally diagnosed with Achalasia and advised surgery would be the best option for me. By this point, I had deteriorated to a stage where I was struggling to keep down both food and liquid. Every day would be a battle; choking on my food, numerous trips to the toilet to regurgitate, heartburn (particularly at night) and waking up choking on saliva several times night. As a keen runner, I used to run half marathons several times a year however as I deteriorated I was unable to fuel my body to run longer distances and found myself getting dizzy when exercising. The lack of sleep was affecting my concentration at work and I always felt tired/run down due to not being able to maintain a balanced diet.

As soon as I was diagnosed with Achalasia I did the usual google and find out everything you can! With it being such a rare disease, I also joined an Achalasia support group online to network with others all over the world with Achalasia. Throughout my research and communication with the support group, one name kept being mentioned… Ian Beckingham!  Through the support group, I became friends with a number of people who Mr Beckingham has previously operated on and heard how their lives had been completely changed for the better – they couldn’t recommend him enough.

I am based in Chester and originally had appointments with two surgeons in Chester to discuss the Heller Myotomy. I mentioned I had heard of a specialist based in Nottingham and both surgeons knew straight away that it was Ian Beckingham I was referring to. It turns out both of the surgeons in Chester knew Mr Beckingham and had been trained to perform the operation by him. Neither of the surgeons in Chester had much experience with Achalasia and they were both of the opinion the best outcome for me would be to be seen by Mr Beckingham.

Within weeks, I had my first appointment with Mr Beckingham. It was refreshing to finally meet someone who was really interested in Achalasia and was confident he could significantly improve my symptoms.  We discussed the operation (Heller Myotomy with Toupet Fundoplication) in detail and booked a date for the procedure to take place.

On the day of my operation Mr Beckingham and his team were fantastic. The operation was a success and I was discharged from Hospital the following day. Straight away I could feel an improvement, liquids we’re going down perfectly without getting stuck. I slept solidly with no heartburn and no choking.I am now three weeks post op so still at an early stage in my recovery and I feel great. I have moved from a soft diet to eating harder sorts of food like chicken, pasta etc (which I haven’t been able to eat in years!) and have not had any difficulties swallowing or keeping the food down. The five incisions on my stomach are almost invisible and have healed perfectly.

I have started running outdoors again and have already signed up for more half marathons this year. I feel like I have got my life back.

I cannot thank Mr Beckingham and his team enough for operating on me. It’s cliché but he really has changed my life. I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else to do the operation.

Rike R. – Chester

I am 60 Years old. I work as a mountain guide at home and abroad.

My summer was booked out when I discovered that I needed a hernia repair.

This was a potential catastrophe as I could not see how I could manage the repair and still continue my guiding activities. Many clients would stand to miss out on their holidays and I could be stranded in the UK without the requisite travel insurance.

Ian Beckingham was quick to reassure me and, together, we worked out how we could fit in the repair, and make time to convalesce between treks.

My next trek was The Tour du Mt Blanc – a challenging trek of around 200km with 10 kms (6.2 miles) of ascent/descent and passes through parts of Switzerland, France and Italy.

The operation went well and I was in and out of hospital in one day. I rested on the following day and took no painkillers throughout. After one week I was moving around comfortably. After two weeks, I was driving my car again. After four weeks I was walking for two hours a day. After six weeks I started my trek. After eight weeks I successfully completed the trek, leading a group of 11 clients, following two weeks of challenging climbing and walking.

Here I am on the summit of L’Aiguillette des Posettes at 2201m with Mont Blanc behind – exactly six weeks after my hernia repair.

Ten weeks later I am training to run in my next half marathon.

My grateful thanks are due to Ian Beckingham and his team. When I was told that I could manage this operation and still honour my summer commitments I was incredulous. However, it is true. Using the Laparoscopic procedure, I was able to get back on my feet and lead a normal life within only a few weeks. Unbelievable!

PS – I subsequently found out that Ian has run the Tour de Mont Blanc Trail non-stop in 34 hours in the famous UTMB race. It took my guided group 8 days to do the same route!

Trevor Riddiough (Mountain Guide)

Dear Mr Beckingham

I would like to thank you for giving me my life back.  I’ve always been active in my 60 years and I was amazed how quickly living with a hernia affected my confidence and restricted my movements – even making sitting down uncomfortable.  My recovery from the operation has been straightforward and in addition to walking a couple of miles a day, I have now restarted yoga and swimming, I can’t wait to get back on my bike!

Please thank the staff at Woodthorpe Hospital, in particular the anaesthetist – the last time I had a general anaesthetic I felt very disorientated when I came around; on this occasion I simply opened my eyes and felt completely at ease.  I would recommend the keyhole surgery to anyone – my husband had a similar operation a few years ago with a different surgeon using traditional (open) surgery and even though his operation was a success, his recovery took far longer.

SJ – Nottingham

Hi Marc

It is Jane Day, do you remember me?

Well, it has been a long and interesting journey since my band was fitted on 8th March 2010.  Today, with great celebrations, which did not include food, I reached the weight loss target I had set for myself.  I weighed in at 150 lbs (10 st 10 lbs)!  At my heaviest I hovered between 21 st 7 lbs and 22 st.  I feel so much healthier now.  I am so grateful that you helped me to get a foot on the ladder and acted as my dietician, inspiring me to commit to this weight loss programme.  I feel you were vitally important in helping me by motivating and encouraging me.  I have never forgotten the sessions you led at the Park Hospital and hope these are still on going.  If you ever need anyone to speak about recovering from obesity, I would be only to pleased to come along, with a positive report of how it can work, if you work it!  

Would you please pass a copy of this email to Mr Beckingham, with my sincerest thanks and then he will be aware that I will make an appointment to see him in the new year.  Currently, my band is doing its job really well.  I should advise that I have used the Slimming World group programme to lose the final 40 lbs in just over 6 months.  A steady but consistent loss.  I shall continue to attend weekly.  I have to maintain this healthy weight now and this seems to be a wise method of keeping a check on it.  

Thanks to you and Mr B – Today I am living!

Free from the prison of fat!

Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2016

Jane D. xx