Chef Tim Bil­ton looks to have it all; the restau­rant of his dreams, a loving wife and two great kids and a tele­vi­sion pro­file many would envy. But be­hind this suc­cess he has been fight­ing a pri­vate bat­tle, as Cather­ine Scott dis­cov­ers.

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - The Big Inter View -

HE Spiced Pear Hepworth is ev­ery­thing Tim Bil­ton ever wanted.

His own fine din­ing restau­rant and tea­room, fields where he can have an­i­mals and grow fruit and veg­eta­bles in­spired by his time work­ing for Ray­mond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons where he can build a fu­ture for him­self, his wife Adele and their two sons Henry, seven, and one-year-old Char­lie.

“Be­ing a chef is a life­style not a job,” says the 41-year-old. “You work all hours and at week­ends, but you do it be­cause it is your pas­sion. I just love it.”

Many peo­ple will know Tim for the five years he spent at the Butcher’s Arms in Hepworth build­ing up the run down pub into a des­ti­na­tion gas­tropub which gained him much ac­claim.

But the Butcher’s Arms was owned by En­ter­prise Inns and Bil­ton knew that he wanted to own his own pub. He is a true York­shire­man and a be­liever in bricks and mor­tar as a way of se­cur­ing his and his fam­ily’s fu­ture.

“We tried to buy the Butcher’s Arms three times but each time they turned us down. I knew I wanted my own place, some­where to plan the next 20 years. Pen­sions are up and down, bricks and mor­tar is where you need to be.”

Al­though the lease isn’t of­fi­cially up on the Butcher’s Arms un­til Septem­ber, Tim went about ac­quir­ing the Spiced Pear which, at the time was called The Hepworth and be­fore that Cragrats. How­ever, just 10 weeks be­fore the doors were due a bomb­shell was dropped on Tim’s care­fully laid plans.

“We’d all been work­ing re­ally hard to get the Spiced Pear ready,” he ex­plains. “My back started to give me a bit of trou­ble and so I went to the doc­tor to get some painkillers. While I was there I just hap­pened to men­tion that I’d had a shad­owy type spot on the white of my left eye and would he mind tak­ing a look at it. It didn’t hurt but I’d had it for some­time and it was start­ing to itch.”

The doc­tor didn’t like what he saw and re­ferred Tim im­me­di­ately to an eye spe­cial­ist at Hud­der­s­field Royal In­fir­mary. The doc­tor there did some tests and said he wanted to re­fer him to a spe­cial­ist in Sh­effield.

Even then he wasn’t un­duly con­cerned, his mind was on his new busi­ness. But when the pro­fes­sor locked the door be­hind Tim and his wife, he started to re­alise all was not well.

“He said he was 99.9 per cent cer­tain that I had can­cer,” re­calls Tim. “The minute the word came out of his mouth I just had an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence. I re­mem­ber look­ing round and real­is­ing he was talk­ing to me. Adele was ask­ing lots of ques­tions but all I could think was ‘I have a restau­rant open­ing in 10 weeks I haven’t got time for can­cer’.”

And that was pretty much how Tim dealt with the news. It is only now, three months on, with his new busi­ness al­ready a suc­cess that the re­al­ity of what could have hap­pened seems to have hit home.

He knows full well that he should have gone to the doc­tor’s sooner hav­ing had the spot in his eye for more than a year. He also knows that the can­cer could eas­ily have spread to his lymph glands, se­ri­ously re­duc­ing his odds of re­cov­ery, and that he could also have lost his eye.

“I know I am ex­tremely lucky that I went

MAS­TER CLASS: Tim Bil­ton with Ray­mond Blanc at the Leeds Food and Drink Fes­ti­val. He was men­tored by Blanc as a teenager.

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