GCSE student escorted to prom by police and firefighters after cancer fight

  • Video from Derbyshire Police

A teenager who defied cancer to complete his GCSEs made an arresting entrance at his year 11 prom after he was handcuffed and driven in the back of a police van.

Sixteen-year-old William Barlow was keen to arrive in style at the end-of-year bash after his studies at Netherthorpe School, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, were severely disrupted by his treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma.

After hearing about his ordeal, members of the Shirebrook Safer Neighbourhood Team at Derbyshire Police helped him to plan a grand entrance.

They "arrested" William and two of his friends before driving them in convoy with another police car and a fire engine to the event at the Van Dyke Hotel in Clowne.

After arriving with sirens blaring and lights flashing, William and his friends were "de-arrested" in front of fellow classmates and parents.

William, left, surprised his two friends Fin and Charlie, right, with the unique transport to their prom in the back of a police van. Credit: Derbyshire Police

William, from Langwith near Bolsover, said: "I enjoyed the escort more than the prom and I’m really grateful that the police and fire teams went out of their way to do this for me.

"It’s a memory that will last forever for me and my friends and I’m so glad they were able to join in and come with me."

William was first diagnosed with a form of Hodgkin Lymphoma that had never previously been seen in the UK after finding a lump in his neck.

He had a nine-hour operation to remove lymph nodes from his neck before having chemotherapy. He was given the all-clear, but just months later the cancer returned.

After another round of chemotherapy, he is awaiting his latest results.

PC Jake Stone heard about William's story from a friend.

"I met William almost straight away after hearing about him," said PC Stone.

William was 'de-arrested' by Sgt Mark Church once he arrived at the venue. Credit: Derbyshire Police

"He is inspirationally brave with a fantastic sense of humour, I couldn’t help but smile after being in his presence and wanted to repay the favour by making his prom as special as we could."

William's mum, Helen Noble, said: “He didn’t really get to complete year 11 but he still wanted to take all his exams so he went back to school and did the whole year in five weeks.

“[The prom arrival] was absolutely fantastic. William loved it. He just kept on smiling, he must have had cheek-ache by the end the of the night.

“William has such a dry sense of humour so getting ‘arrested’ was just this amazing moment for him. We could hear everyone saying ‘oh my gosh’ when he got out of the van with handcuffs on.”

The three teenagers were escorted to their prom by another police car and a fire engine which arrived with lights flashing. Credit: Derbyshire Police

PC Stone said the response from colleagues across Derbyshire Police wanting to get involved had been "unbelievable".

“We had to scale it back as we wouldn’t have fitted all our vehicles on William's drive to pick him up!" he said.

“The smile on William’s face at his prom made all of the planning worthwhile. It’s been a pleasure to meet him and I hope he had the best night possible.”

Sgt Mark Church, who carried out the mock arrest, added: “We were absolutely delighted to help make William’s prom a night to remember.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.