A nagging sore shoulder led businessman Nick Hopkinson MBE down a path which saw him diagnosed with haemochromatosis, and having half his liver removed to save his life from cancer.

Mr Hopkinson, who holds the ceremonial role of High Sherriff of Cheshire – which seems him acting as the Queens representative – believes he may not have known about the cancer until it was too late, if not for a chance comment during routine doctors appointment in 2009.

“Under normal circumstances, I might not have mentioned the shoulder,” said Mr Hopkinson, 60. “It was annoying, but it was nothing really. I only raised it because I was waiting for my brother and I had a bit of time to kill.”

The doctor carried out a blood test, which led to the revelation that Mr Hopkinson, a successful businessman specialising in home improvement companies, had high levels of iron in his blood. Before long, he was diagnosed with haemochromatosis, and was on an 18-month programme of regular venesection, or blood-letting.

Mr Hopkinson, a father-of-three sons who has an MBE for his philanthropic work, gave up drinking and eating red meat, on the advice of his doctor.

“I’d never heard of haemochromatosis before my diagnosis,” he said. “But my doctor told me I had a type of cirrhosis, or scarring on the liver, and that hugely increased my risk of dying of cancer. I felt absolutely fine, so that was a huge shock.”

Mt Hopkinson rigidly stuck to his treatment regime and lifestyle advice, losing four stone in weight. Yet, in 2018, blood test monitoring picked up signs that his body was fighting a tumour.

“They thought they’d caught it early, but it measured 5cm. That’s a tumour the size of a golf ball on my liver,” he said. “It felt to me like the end of my life had started. I was convinced it was terminal. You don’t hear of many people surviving liver cancer.”

However, Mr Hopkinson, who was the living in Bolton, received “outstanding” treatment at Manchester Royal Infirmary Hospital, where half of his liver was cut away. After a month of waiting to find out if the cancer had spread via his blood stream, Mr Hopkinson was told he was clear of cancer. “It’s incredible really,” he said. “My father died of liver cancer – we don’t know if he had haemochromatosis, but it’s certainly possible. I’ve had my three sons tested, and they’re all carrying one of the genes, but they don’t have the condition.

“Now I want to do everything I can to raise awareness and improve treatment. I feel I’ve been given a second chance – I want to use it well.”

"Hoppy" Hopkinson shares his story of over-coming liver cancer, caused by genetic haemochromatosis here :


Neil McClements (CEO, Haemochromatosis UK) writes :

"It is with great sadness that we share the news that Nick Hopkinson MBE died suddenly in September 2021.

'Hoppy' as he was known to everyone, both the tall and the small, spoke memorably at our APPG meeting last December (video above) about his diagnosis and treatment for GH-induced liver cancer.

Following a successful career in retail entrepreneurship, Hoppy applied his straight-talking and down to earth approach to tackling social problems in and around his native Warrington.

His dedication to community activism and his passion for the power of ordinary people led to recognition with his appointment as High Sheriff of Cheshire.

We remember Hoppy with fondness and send our love and best wishes to wife Lesley, his three sons, three grandchildren and his many friends and colleagues. He will be sadly missed by everyone at #TeamIronOverload."