My name is William Quinn, everyone knows me as Bill. Twenty years ago I had to go into hospital to be treated for Kidney Stones. A few days after leaving hospital I received a phone call asking me to go back to the hospital. When I arrived I was given the news nobody wants to hear……I was told I had cancer of the bladder!

I needed surgery but it would be done only if the cancer had not spread. It was a very distressing time, waiting to hear. I was lucky, the cancer had not spread and an operation was to go ahead but still I was only given a fifty-fifty chance of surviving for more than a couple of years after the operation.

Following cancer of the bladder the patient is given a bag that is fitted externally which is designed to take over the role of the bladder. However, at the time surgeons were performing an altogether new procedure called a Neo Bladder, where the bladder is removed and replaced by a “new” one which is constructed using pieces of tissue taken from the bowel.  I was given the choice, Neo Bladder or bag and I chose the Neo Bladder.

The medical team at Southmead Hospital did a fantastic job. Not everyone survives cancer but there are organisations out there doing everything they can to fight the disease and every year more and more people survive cancer thanks to their fantastic work.

We tend to take the amazing work our hospitals do for granted and it was with that in mind I decided to thank the hospital and the team that helped me.  I discussed the whole idea with a couple of friends of mine in my favourite local pub, the Railway Tavern in Fishponds, who backed me immediately, and the plan to Wing Walk for Southmead Hospital Charity was born.

I eventually flew out of Compton Abbas Airfield, near Shaftesbury in Dorset, in September last year and by actually doing it I raised £1,000 which I presented to Southmead Hospital Charity’s Prostate Cancer Care Appeal in October.

The charity is trying to raise funds to buy a specialist robot that can carry out bladder and prostate operations causing less blood loss, less chance of infection and a quicker recovery time.

Twenty years ago I didn’t think I would survive for more than a couple of years after the surgery and yet here I am, 73 years old and flying around at 130 miles an hour standing on top of an aeroplane, Wing Walking for charity.

It is all down to the amazing skill of the medical teams in our hospitals and especially Southmead Hospital, Bristol, to whom I will always be grateful.

My message to others would be, never give up or give up hope.

I am living proof that the progress in surgical techniques that can be realised, and sometimes realised sooner with donations, is a truly fantastic thing. The robot will, without doubt, benefit hundreds of people.

I would like to think that my Wing Walk will inspire other people to have a go and help such amazing causes. After all if I can do it at 73……!

I raised £1,000 towards the robot and to say thank you for the last twenty years, that I thought I would never have.

Best wishes to Southmead Hospital and thanks to everyone that donated!

Bill Quinn