Life saved by Trust’s care co-ordinator’s course

Barry Thomas and Michelle Forsyth

A Fleetwood dad says a sun awareness course saved his life.

Barry Thomas, 55, had an in-situ melanoma removed before it became fatal, thanks to information provided by Skin Cancer Co-ordinator Michelle Forsyth of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Barry’s supervisors took part in a Sun Safety presentation, booked by Fylde Borough Council for the Waste Operations depot staff on Snowdon Road, St Annes where they received the information that Barry is convinced saved his life.

He said: “I had a mole which my wife Emma had been nagging me to get checked.

“On the next working day, I showed a photo of the mole on my back, to Depot Supervisor, Simon Chambers. After listening to Michelle’s Sun Safety training Simon realised it was serious and suggested I go the GP as soon as possible.”

Barry’s suspicious mole before removal

Barry said “I knew it may have been suspect and I’m just starting to realise how lucky I have been, especially as I have a seven year-old son. I rang the GP at 8am and by 10.30am, I had been referred to Clifton Hospital’s Skin Cancer specialist and booked in for a removal.”

Luckily the melanoma had not penetrated into the skin, but if left untreated, this type of skin cancer may have eventually killed him.

Sarah Wilson, Waste Operations Manager at Fylde Borough Council said: “We have taken part in a lot of council health initiatives, but this was the first bespoke training we have had in Sun Safety.

“We employ a lot of outdoor workers and want to keep them as safe as possible. It has just proven that education can save lives and we are proud to have been able to potentially save Barry’s. We will continue to remind the workforce of sun safety and are now in the process of becoming the first accredited Sun Safe workplace on the Fylde coast.”

Michelle is an ambassador for SKCIN, the Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity, that provides the information for the presentation, dispelling common myths about sun safety, recommending how to protect the skin and  how and when to use sun screens. It also covers the necessary factor and star rating required to keep you safe.

Michelle also shows photos of skin cancers and how to recognise them.

Michelle, whose post is funded by Macmillan,  said: “This training empowers people to be brave enough to encourage colleagues to get changes in their skin checked out

“Macmillan and my Trust decided to target outdoor workers (as well as educational establishments and care homes) so I am thrilled that the information has worked in the best way possible – a treatable melanoma.

Barry and Michelle with Fylde Borough Council depot staff James Cookson; Stephen Howard and Simon Chambers

“Barry’s situation highlights the importance of education, awareness and early detection which is paramount as it is proving it is saving people’s lives. I’m very proud that my course has resulted in such a positive way. It’s very humbling.”

Barry added “I have dodged a bullet.”

“I try not to think about what could have happened had I not gone to the GP – It’s quite scary. People think it will never happen to them, but it does. I’m very grateful to Michelle and my colleagues for recognising the sinister mole.”

If you would like to book a Sun Safety awareness course, you can contact

More information about SKCIN can be found at:

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