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How transatlantic trip helped Brum pensioner quit

Sheila Whettell and daughter Julie Holmes - stop smoking service
Sheila Whettell at home with her daughter Julie.

For many smokers who want to quit, a little extra incentive is required to kick the habit.

That was the case for Kings Norton resident Sheila Whettell, who had her last cigarette in early August and is delighted to have given up after nearly seven decades of smoking.

Sheila took the decision to quit when her daughter Julie told her she was coming to Birmingham from her home in California for the first time in 17 years.

“That was the little bit of extra motivation I needed,” explains the mum-of-three, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of three.

“I wanted my home to look nice and welcoming for Julie’s visit and the first thing I thought was, ‘I’ve got to replace that carpet’. So I needed to save up some money.”

Kicking a 20-a-day habit is saving Sheila up to £60 a week. Convinced she has given up for good, she stands to save around £1,300 by the end of the year. Sheila has been able to splash out around £500 on carpet and rugs for her flat – and have a little left over for an extra treat.

 “I bought myself a new pair of shoes as well,” she said. “It’s not just the health benefits that make it worth giving up smoking – cigarettes are so expensive now that you suddenly have a lot of extra money for other things.”

Sheila attended a drop-in session at Wychall Lane Surgery, King’s Norton run by Birmingham Stop Smoking Service. They provided her with nicotine replacement products and, just as importantly, support and encouragement, which Sheila says was a huge help.

Stop smoking advisor Stephen Pugh said: “As an ex-smoker myself, I can understand how people are feeling. We can provide a range of treatments to suit different individuals but our service is just as much about being a supportive friend over an extended period of time.”

Julie says her mum’s achievement was an unexpected bonus of her trip home.

“I didn’t imagine she would give up now,” admits Julie, who moved to California after marrying an American whom she had met in London.

“The whole family is really proud of her. I’m especially pleased that it was my visit that gave her the motivation. That’s a real surprise bonus to my first trip back to my home city in so many years.”

To contact the Birmingham stop smoking team for friendly advice and support on how to quit, call 0800 052 5855 free or text 'QUIT' to 80800. Visit bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/stop-smoking for more resources and information about the team and to read about some of the many Birmingham residents they have helped to quit.