Cavendish Blog – From the Front Line to the Therapy Room
June 22, 2015
Mick Whincup is a Hypnotherapist and Reiki Practitioner at Cavendish Cancer Care. Here he writes about his time in the forces and what lead him to be where he is today…
“I was born in the village of Cud’eth (or Cudworth for those not blessed with being natives of Barnsley.) At school, I wasn’t very academic but I was heavily into sport and played football and rugby for the school (Willowgarth High School in Grimethorpe.) I left aged 16 with one ‘O’ Level – in Technical Drawing.
I am the first male on my Mother’s side of the family never to work in the coal industry. My Nannan said that she didn’t want me to work “darn t’pit.” I thought the coal industry was far too dangerous anyway, and joined the Army. In 1980 at the age of 16 I joined the Royal Corps of Signals as an apprentice, qualifying as a Radio Telegraphist (RTG) in 1982. I enjoyed my Army career, particularly the travel. I served in: Northern Ireland, Gibraltar, Ascension Island, Belize, Cyprus, USA and various locations in the UK. The best place I was posted was Cyprus and by far the worst was easily Belize closely followed by Otterburn!
After ten years in the Army I decided to move on and was very lucky to land a job with the British Antarctic Survey as a Communication Technician. I spent the Austral summer of 1990/91 at the Rothera Antarctic Base on Adelaide Island. Antarctica is the most beautiful part of the world I have ever visited (outside Yorkshire, naturally).
Following a couple of years working on oil rigs, redundancy forced a career change and I decided to train as a nurse and spent most of the next 20 years at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. My first Staff Nurse post was in Cardiothoracic Surgery, then onto Intensive Care for a few years, before becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Acute Pain Management. It was in this role that I became interested in hypnotherapy.
I spent some time with a colleague in the Chronic Pain Team who used hypnosis to help people manage their pain. She had initially trained in hypnotherapy whilst she was a nurse on the Burns Unit. There she used it to help patients cope with dressing changes instead of them having to go to theatre to have their dressings changed under a general anaesthetic.
I recognised hypnotherapy would be a useful adjunctive therapy for people experiencing acute pain and enrolled on a hypnotherapy course with the National College of Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy.
It was a part-time course but very intense and required around 1,500 hours of study at masters level to complete. I passed with a ‘Distinction’ and was given the opportunity to present the findings of my dissertation (using hypnosis with surgical patients) to the 3rd Annual Hypno-Psychotherapy Conference in 2011.
Not bad for someone who left school with only one O-level!
I later became interested in Reiki, being attuned to Level 1 in 2009. When I first became aware of Reiki I was completely sceptical, and I have since discovered that many Reiki practioners were the same. In 2014, I became a Reiki Master, although I do struggle to call myself this, preferring to call myself a Level 3 Reiki Practioner.
I joined Cavendish Cancer Care in 2008 and split my time between working for the charity, nursing and private practice. I quit nursing in 2013 and now make my living as a complementary therapist.
I love going to work as I never have a stressful day at work and I feel very privileged to do what I do for a living.
What’s my personal story with cancer? I have sadly lost my mam, dad and both maternal grandparents to cancer, so I have a lot of empathy with people who are affected by it. Combining my personal experience with what I experienced working as a nurse; I have a lot of knowledge and insight into what cancer patients and their families are going through. This puts me in a good position to be able to help and support them through a very difficult phase of their lives.
What do I do with my spare time? I have supported Barnsley FC since 1977, but fell out of love with football. Although I still look for Barnsley’s results, I have changed sports to Rugby League and support Sheffield Eagles RLFC. I am learning to play the guitar although my playing can only be described as ‘making a noise’, which can be so bad that even spiders leave the room when I pick my guitar!
I have a feeling that I’m the only person who works for Cavendish Cancer Care who can do Morse code, dig a snow-hole and swear competently in 5 languages. Contrary to popular belief I do not sleep in a coffin full of coal from my native Barnsley – mainly because coal hasn’t been mined there for over 20 years and it’s impossible to obtain.”