A FORMER soldier from the Spen Valley travelled to a clinic in Switzerland to end his life after a 10-year battle with motor neurone disease.
A final message from 62-year-old David Nigel Casson, known commonly as Nigel, was posted on several local Facebook community pages after he decided to travel to the Dignitas assisted dying clinic.
Bravely, he joked that he had been “dying to post” his decision to “die with dignity instead of being tortured”.
His wife Julie Casson added the post to his public profile on his behalf, to explain the decision.
Born and raised in North Kirklees, Mr Casson went to Littletown Infant School in Liversedge, before attending Whitcliffe Mount School in Cleckheaton. He met his wife in the town in 1975. He still has many friends in the district who have been shocked at his passing.
He moved to Scarborough where he ran a successful scaffolding firm, but was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2007 and told he had three to five years to live.
The father-of-three lived for another 10 years but decided to end his life because he didn’t want to “feel tombed within his own body,” said wife Julie.
His spirit and humour shone through in his final words on Facebook: “I’ve been ‘dying’ to post this!! Ha ha ha ha ha!! Thank you and goodbye. Xxx”
Mrs Casson said: “He joked and laughed every day. He was an inspiration to others and helped the rest of us cope with the heart-breaking effects of motor neurone disease.”
Mr Casson also added to his Facebook post: “I would like to thank all my Facebook friends for their support and friendship since I joined in 2008, one year into this cruel illness.
“You have been a tremendous support to me throughout the ten years of this illness. It is such a shame that the laws of this country prevent me from doing this in my own home.”
With assisted suicide being illegal in Britain, Mr Casson had to travel to Switzerland to end his life. He did so accompanied by his wife and their three children Craig, 42, Eleanor, 38, and Rebecca, 33, where they spent two days together before they gathered at his side as he pressed the button to administer the fatal drugs in a room at the clinic near Zurich.
Mrs Casson said: “He talked about it right at the beginning when he was first diagnosed but then put it to the back of his mind.
“But he did say that when the time was right that he would pursue it. Last August when he decided that he was going to pursue it he felt himself become significantly weaker.
“He was having days where he was becoming dispirited. He was conscious if he didn’t go while he physically could, he would miss an opportunity.”
Mr Casson previously served in the British Army as an infantryman in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment during the 1970s and had served in Northern Ireland during the turbulent years fighting the IRA. He left due to family commitments.
It was in August last year that Mr Casson made the barely thinkable decision to end his life. Mrs Casson said: “He didn’t want to get to a stage where he was unable to speak or unable to communicate his feelings and frustrations, and feel tombed within his own body.
“By the end he needed help with everything. We had a team of carers giving him round-the-clock care. He relied on a wheelchair for the last seven years.
“His limbs were becoming extremely weak, he needed help with everything such as feeding, personal care, showering and going to the toilet.
“He was completely disabled but managed to keep his spirit.”