A NORTH Cotswold lorry driver has been hailed “an inspiration” after returning to work after a four-year battle against cancer and its aftermath.

Lorry driver Graham Hall, who works at Huntsmans Quarries in Naunton, was diagnosed with osteo sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, which led to him having life-saving surgery to remove his jaw at Gloucester Royal Infirmary.

Graham, 63, of Western Road, Bretforton, who also endured intensive chemotherapy, was left severely disfigured by the operation.

The second stage of his recovery only came when he and wife Lin, who works at Campden BRI in Chipping Campden, were trawling the internet in search of assistance for face reconstruction.

The couple, who have two grown up children and three grandchildren, came across the charity Saving Faces, which was founded in 2000 by maxillofacial surgeon Professor Iain Hutchinson at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

They contacted the hospital and Prof Hutchinson oversaw the rebuilding of Graham’s face.

“He used bone and flesh, principally from my shoulder blades, to reconstruct my face,” said Graham.

“To this day, however, I am unable to eat solids and have to feed myself with an intravenous tube, though I can drink,” said Graham.

Graham briefly returned to work at the quarry two years ago but he was unable to drive lorries as his HGV licence had been revoked due to his ill health.

He then suffered a setback, when his body rejected the new jaw tissue, which left him having to communicate using a whiteboard and a marker pen.

Throughout his ordeal, Graham was kept going by his determination to drive lorries again.

“I was absolutely devastated when I was told I wouldn’t able to drive lorries and never accepted that as final,” said Graham, who has been a lorry driver for 30 years and regained his HGV licence last year.

“It was vitally important to me that I knew my job was still available and I thank Huntsmans for making it possible,” he said.

He now has to go for regular six-monthly check ups in Gloucester and London but feels confident he has beaten the disease.

“I’ve got my life back with some drawbacks but they are small by comparison to what they could have been. People do stare at my face and, while I can talk, I’m not always crystal clear and often have to repeat things. My biggest disappointyment is not being able to eat, especially at Christmas and birthdays.”

Hunstmans Quarries managing director David Glenn said: “Graham’s a really determined, superb guy, who’s been an inspiration to everyone. All of us here work as a team and it is so good to see him back. It’s great to see somebody battle and to win that battle.”