Musical friendship helps Dave stay positive

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When headteacher Dave Markham was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer, his life was changed forever.

But after coming to terms with the initial shock, he vowed to approach the challenge with a positive attitude.

Two years ago after his diagnosis, the dad-of-three from Stannington teamed up with his friend, Mike Lydiat, and started performing a series of musical concerts throughout Sheffield to raise money for Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, including a regular night at Shakespeare’s on Gibraltar Street.

The duo, friends for over 20 years, play to a diverse range of audiences and have raised an outstanding £10,075 for the cancer charity so far.

Former marathon and fell runner Dave, 58, said: “It took me a long time to get my head around being diagnosed with cancer. I had always led an active lifestyle, so naturally I did wonder ‘Why me?’

“My diagnosis and subsequent treatment meant I was no longer able to continue with my lifelong career as a headteacher and therefore I found myself searching for something else to focus on.”

The musical comrades call themselves Toffee Music - ‘Two Old Fellas For Evening Entertainment’ - and have now built up an established fan base, performing to audiences on a weekly basis.

“Through music I found a real purpose again, and knowing that our work could directly benefit the lives of others living with cancer, it spurred us on to do more and more,” added Dave, who used to be head at Greystones Primary.

“We never expected to raise such a large amount of money from what started out as a hobby, but this has been a firm motivator for us to continue supporting this fantastic cause.”

After being diagnosed at The Hallamshire Hospital, Dave had a radical prostatectomy – an operation to remove the prostate – in the hope that the cancer would be cleared from his body. However, soon after his surgery doctors discovered the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes outside the gland itself.

Dave then underwent a course of radiotherapy at Weston Park in an attempt to stop the disease from spreading further. He now attends the hospital every three months for injections to control the cancer, as well as taking daily drugs to keep symptoms at bay.

Mike, also an ex-headteacher, said: “We are a versatile duo who can play anything from nursery rhymes to vaudeville, and with a variety of instruments we can tailor our performances to requirements.”

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