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Inside Out: Surprising Stories, Familiar Places

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   Inside Out - East Midlands: Monday October 23, 2006
Hydrotherapy dog
Top treatment for dogs - the hydrotherapy pool

Canine cures

How much would you spend to save your dog's life?

Scientists in Nottingham are leading the way in treating cancer in dogs.

As well as being one of the biggest killers in the human world, cancer is also wreaking havoc in the health of our pets.

One in five dogs will get it - the disease claims the lives of billions of them across the globe.

But all that could change.

Breakthrough therapy

The world breakthrough has been made by PetScreen based at BioCity in Nottingham, as Kevin Slater, Head of PetScreen, explains:

"What we're now able to do is test part of the dog's tumour and find the best type of chemotherapy to treat it. By targeting the cancer treatment effectively, dogs have a far greater chance of surviving...

"We're also just starting to screen healthy dogs with a blood test to pick up cancer sooner and improve their chances even more. We've had a tremendous amount of interest from all over the world and it's extremely exciting."

Inside Out exclusive

Hip replacement operations, MRI scans, pacemakers, chemotherapy and even contact lenses - the health care options for our pets mirror what's available to their owners.

But there's no NHS for pets so all these treatments come with a hefty price tag.

Inside Out discovered that some owners are prepared to spend thousands on their four legged friends, even if the prognosis isn't good.

One of the family

Linda Ashford, who owns a chocolate brown Labrador called Bailey, was insured for his hip operation.

But if she hadn't had insurance she told us, she'd have been straight down to the bank for a bank loan.

"He's one of the family," she explained. "It couldn't have been left - he was in too much pain."

Astra receiving treatment
Astra receiving treatment for her cancer

Ryan O'Meara edits the dog lifestyle magazine K9 which is based in Warsop - he says Linda isn't unusual:

"People are prepared to spend thousands on their pets.

"If they aren't insured, they'll take out loans or re-mortgage the house, just to give their dogs an extra couple of years of life."

The magazine has carried out surveys which reveal dogs will cost owners an average of £22,000 across their lives.

It also found that over a recent two year period, nearly three million working days were lost in England through people taking time off to care for their sick pets.

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Dovedale - victim of success?

Dovedale - coming under pressure from visitor numbers

Dovedale has been described by those who work there as a 'precious and fragile oasis' that needs long-term management and conservation.

Yet it attracts over a million visitors a year.

So how can those responsible for the East Midlands' newly designated national nature reserve balance visitor numbers with protection for the environment?

Stunning scenery

Dovedale is one of the best examples of an active ravine in the country - carved out of the Carboniferous limestone by the River Dove over millions of years.

But the freedom we have to walk along the valley today is all down to one man - Frederick Holmes from Buxton.

In the early 20th Century several different people owned the valley and there was only limited public access.

Day visitors
Big day out - hikers in the Dovedale valley

One day in 1916 Frederick was out on a walk when he noticed the landowners were felling a large number of trees.

Concerned the area was about to be destroyed forever, he started a campaign to protect this area for future generations.

By 1934 with the help of Manchester businessman, Robert McDougal, he had managed to secure the sale of key parts of the Dale.

He then handed it over to the National Trust for safekeeping.

Nowadays it's not tree felling but climate change and 'people pollution' that's changing the dale forever.

And the challenge for the next 100 years will be maintaining open access that was Holmes' dream while protecting the landscape from environmental degradation.

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Return ticket to Jamaica

Young William
Early years - William Chong as a young man

A Nottingham pensioner has returned to his homeland, for the first time in almost 60 years.

William Chong left Jamaica on the first sailing of the Empire Windrush.

It was 1948, and he was only 19-years-old.

Since then, he's never been back... until now.

One way ticket

William paid £28.00 for his ticket to sail to England just after the Second World War.

Jamaican servicemen had been returning with tales of their travels, and William thought the trip would be an adventure.

Arriving in Britain, William was surprised by what he saw:

"The first impression I had was these houses are all together.

"Where I came from the houses were separate. That really shook me. When I was in Jamaica there were diesel trains. And when I came here there were steam trains. I thought it would be more advanced."

The first challenge was getting a job - and it was a choice between the army or the coal mines.

William chose to work in the pits:

"It was really difficult because a lot of people didn't want to work with you. (One manager) said 'even if I could let you come here to work, the men wouldn't work with you, because they don't like coloureds here'. Some just didn't want to know."

Going home...

William found work at two pits in Nottinghamshire - Welbeck and Warsop Main.

Then he settled in Nottingham, where he met his wife, Doreen, and where they brought up their two sons.

He moved on to a string of other jobs - as a moulder, dyer, builders' mate, plumbers' mate, and at the world-famous Raleigh factory.

He retired from a pie-making job at Pork Farms.

William always planned a return visit to Jamaica but every time those plans fell through.

But then the "Tuntum" Housing Association, which runs his flat, decided to organise the trip for him.

So at 78-years-old, William boarded a plane for the first time in his life.

VIP welcome

William and his son Tony got a VIP welcome.

William was applauded by hundreds of Jamaicans as he was welcomed on stage, at an annual cultural festival.

And he was invited to meet the new Governor-General, the Queen's representative in Jamaica.

William Chong in Jamaica
Touching moment - William Chong in Jamaica

"Prodigal son, the prodigal son!" - William joked.

"Very, very touching. All these years away. And I come back and go in the Governor's mansion. Astonishing isn't it?"

But there was a shock in store when William went to find his childhood home.

The house had been demolished, and a new building put up in its place.

"It's not there. Just not there. You can't feel something when it's not there. It puts you off completely."

His son, Tony, added:

"It's sad for him that the place has gone down so badly, and so quickly. You can see things that must have been better in the past. And that's the sadness really".

Changing times

A lot of things have changed in 58 years.

Listen to William Chong talking about his experiences

When William Chong was last in Jamaica, it was still a British colony.

Now he has been invited to be a special guest at a ceremony celebrating the country's 44 years of independence.

"Everybody I've met has made me really welcome… I've got the passport, the British passport, so I'm British.

"But I am still a Jamaican because I was born in Jamaica. I'm proud to be a Jamaican. I'm always a Jamaican in my heart." William Chong.

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