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Ian shares his story with our Oral Histories project

SON of a blacksmith, scholarship boy, trained accountant, IT expert, businessman, rugby player, father, grandfather and international traveller...at 84 years old Ian Betts realised he had a story that he needed to tell.

And now, thanks to our oral history sessions, that remarkable story is being preserved for future generations.

Our patients all  have the opportunity to record their stories for posterity or to share with family and loved ones, supported by specially trained volunteers who provide help as people re-live important memories of their lives.

Ian, who lives in Ecclesall with wife Dorothy, came to the project as a patient at our Active Intervention Centre, where he receives support for his myelofibrosis.

Together with volunteer John O’Shea, Ian completed the 500th interview in the  autobiographical project, recording more than a dozen hour-long sessions capturing the major events in his life.

“There were a lot of things I wished I’d asked my parents but you always think about it when it’s too late so I’d always had it in my mind that one day I should write a book but I never got round to it,” Ian said.

Instead, he started talking, telling a story that goes right back to the 1930s when he was growing up the son of a Sheffield blacksmith who worked on the city’s tram network, his educational opportunities thanks to a scholarship and then a career that saw him live and work in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen, Somalia, the Bahamas and even – rather closer to home – Guernsey, before he came back to his native city.

“It’s been quite a big job and I must have done about 12 hours of talking and I’ve still only reached the 1980s,” he laughed.

With six children and six grandchildren now living all around the world, he hopes that his reminiscences will provide a permanent record of his life that will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

“I think I’ve had a fairly interesting life so I hope somebody might be interested,” he said.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in feeling you’re leaving a little bit of a legacy for the family and I hope they can learn from my experiences – when you look back you always think I wish I’d know then what I know now.”