Sisters doing it for themselves with Calderdale stop smoking service


After smoking more than 60 cigarettes a day between them, two sisters from Illingworth, Calderdale have successfully quit smoking with the help of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s stop smoking service.

Sandra Dickinson, 66, and Susan Balmforth, 55, had both smoked all of their adult life, but it was only a serious health scare that led them both to take on their biggest challenge and quit smoking for good.

It was when Sandra was admitted to hospital with a serious chest infection as a result of her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), that she decided she must stop and that her sister decided she didn’t want to end up like her so should quit too. After been referred to the Calderdale specialist stop smoking service by her GP Sandra signed up for the stop smoking group sessions with a reluctant Susan.

Susan said, "After seeing Sandra so ill I decided I needed to stop smoking, but I also decided I didn’t want to attend any stop smoking sessions. I thought I could just take the tablets and be on my way, but I was told by the advisers I needed to stay in order to get a prescription and thank goodness I did. It was the best thing I ever did and I can still hear the voices of other members in my head."

Both found listening to personal experiences of other quitters a great boost and drive to help them on their own way to stopping smoking. They also found the friendly environment and relaxed approach of the advisers ideal for helping them on their way.

As part of the sessions members are required to measure the amount of Carbon Monoxide in their lungs. Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas which is found in tobacco smoke. As a non-smoker the reading should be below 6. Sandra remembers the feeling when she first blew a zero on the carbon monoxide test. "It was a fantastic feeling blowing that zero and I knew then I wanted to keep it that way. Champix definitely helped us quit, but we couldn’t have done it without the advisers or the support of the other members.

"Since quitting one of the biggest things I’ve noticed the difference in is flying. It used to be a nightmare going on a flight because of the constant craving for a cigarette, but since quitting I’ve been to Australia and back and didn’t even have any cravings."

Susan said, "My advice to anyone is that they have to want to do it. It’s worth going along to the groups even if you think it’s not for you as it turned out to be the best thing I did! We’ve been quit now for about 8 months and while we still might feel like having a smoke every now and again we know we never will. Something has definitely changed. Even at a really difficult time when I would have normally dived into a cigarette pack I stopped myself as I heard the voice of another group member. That was definitely a turning point for me. I know if I didn’t smoke then I probably never will again."

If you live in Calderdale and would like to stop smoking whether on your own, with a member of your family or a friend contact the Calderdale specialist NHS stop smoking service, which offers free help and support for smokers who want to quit and help more than 1,500 people give up every year.

The service offers free sessions at convenient times in the Calderdale area, practical advice and the right medication to help you stop smoking, and stay stopped. Specialist help is also available for pregnant women and their family, as well as support for businesses that want to help employees to go smokefree.

Contact the Calderdale specialist NHS stop smoking service on 01422 281505 or email

Sisters doing it for themselves with Calderdale stop smoking service

time to read: 3 min