THE family of a father of two who survived a brain tumour operation have welcomed news that links with the hospital that treated him are to be maintained.

Darren Nicholson, 40, of Holywell, was rushed to Liverpool neurology centre at Walton Hospital two days after falling ill and had an operation to remove a tumour on September 13.

Last week health bosses quashed fears over a possible review into the links for specialist care, such as neurology services, between North Wales and North West England, guaranteeing patients will not have to travel to South Wales for specialist treatment.

Darren’s mother-in-law, Margaret Jones, of Holywell, speaking on behalf of the family, said the alarm was raised by his wife, Tracy, 36.

She said: “It happened very quickly. He fell ill on the Friday. He went to Walton where he had the operation on Monday.

“The hospital was fantastic. At the moment he is recovering so they can start rehabilitation. It has been traumatic. It has been very tough.

“Darren had a headache when he came home from work on Friday afternoon and he just wanted to go to bed. It all happened so quickly.

“He had never had a day off sick in his life. It has been traumatic on the whole family. It has been hard on the children. There is still a long way to go.”

Mary Burrows, chief executive of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said patients would not be forced to travel more than 170 miles to South Wales to access specialist care.

She said: “This health board has no plans whatsoever for patients to go to Cardiff or Swansea. We will continue to build our links with North West England.”

Mrs Jones said: “To have had to travel down to South Wales would have been horrible. It would have put more strain on the family, more than there has been.”

Darren’s mother, Christine, has been at her son’s side, helping him through his recovery.

The community of Holywell including Darren’s father-in-law Alun and 86-year-old fundraiser Ronnie Lambert, Margaret’s father, helped raise more than £480 for Macmillan Cancer Support with a stall at Holywell Hospital.

Margaret said “There has been great support in Holywell. The whole family has gathered together. We’d like to thank all of the people from Holywell and family and friends for their support.

“Everyone is now concentrating on Darren getting better.

“The support Tracy got in Walton has been fantastic and she is still getting it.

“Darren and Tracy are very much in love. They are devoted to each other.”

Darren, a chef at the Stanford Gate Hotel in Holywell, has two children aged nine and five. Buckley councillor Dennis Hutchinson, who has received treatment at Walton following a head injury, was pleased to hear links would remain.

Cllr Hutchinson said: “We heard about these proposals three or four years ago and we thought they had been put to bed.”

He said there were rumours had resurfaced, suggesting it might be reviewed.

But he added: “I am very pleased by the comments.”

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