Emergency services give Langwith teen who battled cancer an 'incredible' escort to prom
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Arriving at your school prom handcuffed in the back of a police van is not usually how things are meant to go – but for William Barlow it was a dream come true.
The 16-year-old, from Langwith, was given a moment to remember courtesy of the emergency services, having battled cancer to complete his GCSEs.
Will, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma aged 14, returned to school with just five weeks to go before his exams following nearly a year off.
Having heard of his inspirational bravery, and love for the emergency services, officers from Derbyshire Police’s Shirebrook safer neighbourhood team pulled out all the stops to provide a special escort to Netherthorpe School’s end of year prom.
Organised by PC Jake Stone, with help from Sgt Mark Church and colleagues from the fire service, Will and his two friends Fin and Charlie were treated to a emergency services convoy to the venue.
Helen, Will’s mum, said: “I don’t think I have seen him smile as much as he did in as long as I can remember: it brought a real tear to my eye. He has always been a fighter and, if I’m honest, ten weeks before the prom I hadn’t even considered the possibility of him going.
“Will said to me he wanted to leave school in the same way everyone else has done: for strangers to put so much time and effort into making the occasion so special… there really are no words for how much that means. The memories will last a lifetime.”
PC Stone was left inspired by Will’s attitude.
He said: “I met William almost straight away after hearing about him – he is inspirationally brave with a fantastic sense of humour, I couldn’t help but smile after being in his presence and wanted to repay the favour by making his prom as special as we could.
“He specifically asked me to ‘arrest him’ as he said it would be cool. He was therefore ‘arrested’ by my sergeant for being too cool for school!
“The smile on William’s face at his prom made all of the planning worthwhile. It’s been a pleasure to meet him and I hope he had the best night possible.”
Sgt Church said: “It makes me feel amazing, to be quite honest, personally I have been a cop for 29 and a half years, so I’ve only got six months left, and the whole reason I joined was to make people’s lives better.
“It’s not all about making arrests - though of course we do all the regular police work - but we want to be seen engaging positively with the community and building those relationships.”
Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service watch manager Shane Reeves said: “William's story is one of courage and determination so when Shirebrook crew were asked to escort him to prom, it was an honour to be involved in such a special occasion and help him mark the end of school.
“He is a true inspiration, and we wish him all the best for the future.”