Bravedart is battling back

Published: 3 Feb 2012 09:30

A BARRHEAD darts ace who fell victim to thyroid cancer is winning the most crucial battle of his life - while getting set to take part in the Scottish Open in Renfrew next month.

Share this image

Jamie "Bravedart" Harvey, whose career came to a sickening halt when his cancer was diagnosed in 2009, was ranked fourth best player in the world before disaster struck.

"I'd ignored the symptoms, and by the time I got it seen to I was 'just in time' and no more," he said.

"As it was I thought I was a goner - for a while I didn't think I'd make it."

Now after almost three years of harrowing treatment, which included having his voicebox removed, his cancer is in remission.

He's rebuilding his strength, and is obviously keen to regain the sort of sparkling form which saw him propelled into a jet set life of global travel and international adulation.

The 56-year-old - now gravelly-voiced but as sharp as a tack - has clearly been through hell, but he's full of jokes and spirited banter as he checks the latest entries on his dedicated Facebook page, which is his prime means of keeping in touch with fans at home and abroad.

"I don't know if I can get back to where I was before I became ill but I'm certainly going to give it all I've got," he said.

Originally from Glasgow, Jamie had never even heard of Barrhead before he met his wife Marie, a home care worker.

The couple moved to the town in 1976, and Jamie's interest in darts began to take off after he won a bottle of whisky in a competition in the Flying Horse pub.

"I've a lot of friends in Barrhead," he said, "and the only sponsor I've ever had was the late David Dale who owned the Flying Horse."

What amounted to an all-consuming passion for darts turned into a high-flying career when he was sacked from his job with Scottish Power for insisting on keeping a contest date in Las Vegas - it was a "now or never" opportunity he couldn't pass up.

He made his World Championship debut in 1992, and in the following year was one of the players who founded the Professional Darts Corporation - and went on to play in every PDC World Championship from 1994 to 2006.

His major successes include winning the Antwerp Open and also the Scottish Masters.

But while his flamboyant style - arriving to play to the strains of "The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond" - his hectic lifestyle was taking its toll.

By his own estimation Jamie was smoking 100 cigarettes a day, and was often playing in venues that were thick with tobacco smoke.

"That's probably what gave me cancer," he said, "but when I worked for Scottish Power I was cutting plastic cable that gave off toxic fumes, and we never wore masks or gloves in those days - that came a few years after I left."

The long and traumatic treatment to stem the cancer has dominated his life since 2009, but radiotherapy beat the illness down and gave him hope for the future.

In his check-up trips to hospital he tells other patients what to expect, and doesn't try to conceal from them the fact the treatment will be unpleasant and sometimes frightening.

"But the important thing is you can beat it," he said. "When you're going through treatment everything is strange and unnerving, so I think it's helpful for people to hear from someone like me - who's been through it - just what they can expect."

Reminiscing about the matches which took him to stardom he says: "The thing that annoys me is that we were very poorly paid by comparison with the massive fees the top players get now.

"We were lucky to get perhaps £4,000 for a competition, which is nothing compared with the fees paid out today - really we weren't getting a good deal." But it's the sheer pleasure of playing - and the challenge of regaining some of his former brilliance - which has persuaded him to take up his darts again. "It's that split second when you know just a fraction of an inch is all that's in it which makes it such an incredible game," he says.

He relies on imaginative soft foods prepared by Marie, because of his throat condition, and has had to struggle to build up his strength and reflexes after the debilitating effects of his cancer treatment.

"But I've started playing again," he adds. "I don't know if I can be as good as I was, but getting back into darts gives me a challenge and an objective."

The 2011 Scottish Open takes place in the Normandy Cosmopolitan Hotel in Renfrew's Inchinnan Road on Saturday and Sunday February 19 and 20.

Jump to first paragraph.

Get more stories from our Barrhead section

4 Apr 2014 09:00

Resident shaken after vandals hit

POLICE have appealed for information following criminal damage to a door of a Barrhead flat.

Social:

2 Apr 2014 11:00

Deliberate blazes putting lives at risk

YOU’RE putting lives at risk–Barrhead’s fire chiefs have delivered this damning message to firebugs.

Social:

2 Apr 2014 09:00

Police op hits rogue traders

POLICE in Barrhead are set to participate in a nationwide initiative, cracking down on rogue traders.

Social:

16 Jan 2014 13:00

Ice work by talented young skater Chloe

A TALENTED Barrhead ice skater struck gold in her first competitive event.

Social:

15 Jan 2014 11:00

Season of fun for Bookbug lovers

Another busy year of Bookbug fun was rounded off with a special final session.

Social:

15 Jan 2014 10:00

Final nail in the coffin for Barrhead factory

ONE of Barrhead’s oldest businesses will be stripped of its assets and closed for good, the Barrhead News can exclusively reveal.

Social:

15 Jan 2014 09:00

Radio duo will be the voices of reason

TWO new voices are ringing out across Barrhead’s airwaves and the daring duo hope to solve some of the problems faced by listeners.

Social:

8 Jan 2014 13:00

Trio pledge to support town’s small businesses

SMALL businesses must be protected in Barrhead — that’s the message this week from three of the town’s biggest representatives.

Social:

8 Jan 2014 11:00

Appeal to make Jack’s charity single a UK chart success hit

A TOUCHING musical tribute to a tragic Renfrew schoolboy has come up against some of the biggest artists in the UK charts.

Social:

7 Jan 2014 13:30

Grandmother beats the odds to pick up MBE

A BARRHEAD grandmother is to be honoured by the Queen — 19 years after she was given five years to live.

Social:

7 Jan 2014 13:11

Dedicated staff rewarded

At a special award ceremony in December, the hard work and dedication of around 50 home support workers, homecare supervisors, social care workers, social workers, managers and administration support was recognised.

Social:

7 Jan 2014 12:30

Volunteer award for council employee

AN East Renfrewshire Council employee kept motivating all her colleagues to put their best foot forward when it came to keeping fit — and she won an award for her efforts.

Social:

7 Jan 2014 09:00

Pupils spread Christmas cheer

ST LUKE’S high school pupils have been spreading Christmas cheer in Barrhead Main Street with carol singing and charity collections.

Social:

3 Jan 2014 17:00

Pupils spread Christmas cheer

ST LUKE’S high school pupils have been spreading Christmas cheer in Barrhead Main Street with carol singing and charity collections.

Social:

3 Jan 2014 13:00

Help is at hand to tackle debt problems

PEOPLE across East Renfrewshire are being urged to avoid debt misery this New Year by considering their local credit union if they need to borrow money.

Social:

3 Jan 2014 11:00

Pupils pledge to help community in 2014

PUPILS at Barrhead High School have one thing in common — a New Year’s resolution to do more in the community.

Social:

3 Jan 2014 09:30

Register kids for school

PARENTS of children due to start primary school in Barrhead next August are being urged asked to register them now.

Social:

31 Dec 2013 11:00

Winning artwork will light up the festival

ART departments in Barrhead schools and across East Renfrewshire have been working hard on their artwork for the Electric Glen projection competition.

Social:

30 Dec 2013 15:00

Drink drivers will face tough consequences

DRIVERS in East Renfrewshire are being reminded of the tough legal and personal consequences of drink driving this Christmas as the Scottish Government, Road Safety Scotland (part of Transport Scotland), Police Scotland and their road safety partners launched the 2013 Festive Drink Drive campaign.

Social:

30 Dec 2013 13:00

Serving up Christmas cheer at church fayre

TALENTED Barrhead residents have managed to raise more than £1,000 by selling hand made goods at a Christmas Fayre.

Social: