No Smoking Day: Be inspired by Derek Wright, from Elm Park

Ex-smoker Derek Wright, with granddaughter - and inspiration - Courtney Wright, nine.

Ex-smoker Derek Wright, with granddaughter - and inspiration - Courtney Wright, nine. - Credit: Archant

Today is National No Smoking Day. Throughout the day we’ll bring you inspirational tales from those who have kicked the habit.

Derek says if he can give up smoking anyone can

Derek says if he can give up smoking anyone can - Credit: Archant

Derek Wright, 69, could barely catch his breath as he cycled to Sanders Draper Secondary School, in Hornchurch, where he worked as a caretaker.

His daughter had recently given birth to a baby girl and as he gasped for air, he realised he would have to give up his 35-year habit if he wanted to see his granddaughter grow up. It was the shock to the system he needed

Derek, from Wood Lane, Elm Park, shares his story:

“I started smoking when I was about 17. Back then everyone did. You could smoke everywhere, you’d do it out and about, and you’d do it down at the pub.


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“It’s not like now where you know all about the risk of cancer.

“I gave up smoking about eight years ago, just after my granddaughter Courtney was born. If I had not, I don’t think I would be here now.

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“I gave up with the help of my doctor: he put me on full strength patches for two weeks; then half strength for two weeks; then on low strength - which I didn’t have to finish.

“I’ve never looked back. I was so pleased to give up - so you see patches do work and I could not thank my doctor enough.

“Now the smell of cigarettes make me feel sick; when I see someone smoke I think ‘you prat, you’re killing yourself’.

“But I also think if I can give up, anyone can.”

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