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Few people are brave enough to talk about the serious medical conditions that many label as embarrassing. Darren Fletcher has the guts to go where others won’t and speaks out about his struggle with ulcerative colitis, so he deserves some glory.
Darren, central midfielder and captain of West Bromwich Albion, continues to tackle the taboo of gastrointestinal conditions. He was diagnosed with the condition in 2011 and has had his large intestine removed, yet came out the other side and got back to playing professional football and living a normal life.
“I stayed silent until about 2011 or 2012 because it’s not something you generally talk about, the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. My close family and friends knew but nobody else knew at the club,” Darren explains. “I found it difficult making up stories for reasons why I wasn’t training, why I was looking ill, why I was feeling ill, why I was rushing off to the bathroom. Basically lying to people’s faces. Once I started talking about it and making it public knowledge it was such a relief. It was the best thing I did.”
Professor Roger Jones, Founding President of the PCSG and Editor of the British Journal of General Practice, presented Darren with the award on Monday 8th May at the West Bromwich Albion training grounds.
“Darren has paved the way for raising public awareness of gastroenterological conditions and hasn’t let his medical issues get in the way of striving to achieve amazing things,” says Professor Roger Jones. “He is a fantastic role model and voice for other sufferers, particularly young adults experiencing gastroenterological issues.”
The PCSG’s Guts and Glory Awards celebrate the individuals making a real difference in gastroenterology perceptions and awareness. As many as 1 in 10 primary care appointments are down to gastrointestinal and digestive complaints, and further actions come at a high cost for the NHS. The PCSG is committed to improving primary care by supporting healthcare professionals, raising public awareness to encourage people to detect warning signs, visit their GP and get diagnosed earlier, and striving to improve the transition of patients from their GP surgeries to hospitals and clinics.
 Man United’s Darren Fletcher explains ulcerative colitis illness, BBC Sport 2014
 Jones R., Primary care research and clinical practice: gastroenterology Postgraduate Medical Journal 2008;84:454-458
Roger Jones is the Founding President of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology and the European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology. Educated at Oxford and St Thomas, he is President and Chair of Core, the Digestive Diseases Foundation and Provost of the South London Faculty of the RCGP, as well as Editor of the British Journal of General Practice.
Professor Pali Hungin is the Dean of Medicine and the Head of the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Durham University. A medical doctor, he is also Professor of Primary Care and General Practice and the Director of the Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research within the School.
Greg Rubin is a GP and Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Durham University. His principal research interest is the management of gastrointestinal problems in primary care and at the interface with secondary care, particularly for cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, and he has published extensively on this subject. He recently completed a term as Chair of the European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology. He also chairs the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Scientific Foundation Board.
Karen Holbrook works both within the NHS at Gloucester and Cheltenham Hospitals and also in the Community at Prime Endoscopy Bristol based at Westbury on Trym. She has also been an IBD Nurse Specialist and has done an MSc in Health Sciences (IBD) She is a hypnotherapist. Karen is highly skilled and a great team member, her contribution to our unit is highly valued by all that work with her.
When Rob Starr decided to swim the English Channel in memory of his father Edward, who had passed away from cancer, he knew he had set himself an enormous challenge. The 21-mile swim through the freezing waters of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes would be enough to daunt even someone at the peak of physical fitness. However Rob had another hurdle to overcome – the 44-year-old businessman suffers from Crohn’s disease and assumed that the cold temperatures would exacerbate the crippling abdominal pains he regularly suffered. What he did not expect was that the icy seawater would actually relieve his agony….