2022 Winner

Tracey and Phil Payton

Champions to thank for the inspirational ‘End of Treatment’ bells which patients ring to celebrate milestones or completion of their cancer therapy.

Tracey and Phil are the driving force behind the initiative which helps children – and now adults – to celebrate reaching milestones or finishing treatment in more than 200 hospitals across the UK.  

The couple, from Manchester, were moved to action after their then eight-year-old daughter Emma received NHS-funded Proton Beam Therapy for a tumour in Oklahoma in 2013. They saw how American hospitals encouraged patients to ring a bell to mark their final treatment. 

Emma recalls: “They had a bell in the lobby that you could ring when you finished your treatment; this astounded us because there wasn’t anything like this in the UK. We just finished our treatment and went home.”

Emma rang the bell in the USA in March 2014, after 23 rounds of Proton Beam Therapy although when she came back to Manchester, she still had to undergo a further two rounds of chemotherapy. 

Inspired by the uplifting effect of ringing the bell for Emma, the family decided to bring the concept to the UK. They wanted to provide comfort and a boost to families, but also to help raise awareness of children’s cancers, highlight patient stories and family experiences, and share information about the signs, symptoms and harsh treatments children have to go through after a cancer diagnosis.

The very first bell was installed at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital in time for Emma to be the first child to ring it at the end of her treatment. 

Today hundreds of their bells are in place across the UK for children and adults. The scheme started out for children, but proved so popular that units treating adults also started to request them. They even have a special little bell for Neonatal Intensive Care Units and have just launched a Milestone Bell for people whose treatment may be ongoing.

Tracey and Phil have also sent bells to hospitals internationally, including Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Qatar and the USA. 

Tracey said: “Ringing the bell was such a monumental part of reaching the end of that particular stage of Emma’s treatment journey – we are so proud that we’ve donated over 360 bells to hospitals and treatment centres since then.”

Lindsey Dawson, lead chemotherapy nurse at Royal Oldham Hospital, said: “Chemotherapy can be frightening. The bell is a symbol of hope. It gives patients something to aim for and represents a milestone moment for many people. It is such a simple idea, but the positivity and hope it generates amongst patients and staff on the ward is fantastic and it means so much to everyone.”