'Prodigal son' Doctor always knew he'd return to 'warm' Liverpool

Dr. Shamender Talwar grew up in Toxteth but now lives in the city centre
-Credit: (Image: Dr. Shamender Talwar)

A doctor has said he knew he would "always return to Liverpool” after leaving the city as a child.

Dr. Shamender Talwar grew up in Toxteth after his dad Sham, came to the UK from India in 1965 and met his mum, Pramila, from Kenya. Shamender’s mum wanted a different lifestyle than what the city was offering at the time, so the family packed their belongings up and headed to London.

Here, Shamender would finish his studies at Regent College and go on to train to become a clinical psychologist. However, with “life experience”, Shamender, the “prodigal son”, has come back to the city to “give back”.

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The 52-year-old told the ECHO: “I left Liverpool when I was 10 years old and I came back at 50, with a completely different perspective of life and the city. Everything I learned from the world I brought back with me to give back to the people of Liverpool. That’s the only reason I am here now.

“No matter where you are, Liverpool has more to offer. The warmth here is something you can’t get anywhere else. There’s even a family atmosphere when you're out in the streets, people belong here. If you are a Scouser, it doesn’t matter what skin colour you have. Liverpool love cannot be seen in any other city.”

Since moving back during the pandemic, Shamender has been running free mental health support for people in the city and a number of projects, including the Liverpool International Song Contest, through his charity TUFF.

Dr. Shamender Talwar returned to Liverpool after 40 years of living elsewhere
Dr. Shamender Talwar returned to Liverpool after 40 years of living elsewhere -Credit:Shamender Talwar

Formed in 2011, the charity prides itself on bridging community sectors, rebuilding social integration and global community cohesion. Some of the charity’s projects include assisting Grenfell survivors and inner city school initiatives that have resulted in at least 50 children being saved from radicalisation.

Shamender was inducted into The Royal Society of Arts in recognition of his “outstanding work to make the world a better, kinder place”. His induction saw him become a fellow alongside the likes of Charles Dickens, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela and David Attenborough.

He explained how it couldn’t have come at a better time as it was just a few years after he survived a fatal tumour.

The psychologist was giving a presentation to the Reykjavik City Council in Iceland. But suddenly, he collapsed and blacked out completely. This led to him being rushed into hospital and becoming completely paralysed on the left side of his body.

Dr. Shamender Talwar was in Iceland at the time of his hospitalisation
Dr. Shamender Talwar was in Iceland at the time of his hospitalisation -Credit:Shamender Talwar

He said: “When I woke sometime later I was told that I was pronounced dead and that it was a miracle that I had survived. They had done a CT scan on my brain and found a tumour the size of a golf ball. It was a condition called Oliogodenglioma. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t, because my left side was completely paralysed.

“During that time in the hospital, I felt every emotion at once: distorted, depressed, despair. Mostly, I was in shock. I’d just come back from the clutches of death, but I was paralysed.

“I remembered that I’d had a vision of a tunnel, with a light at the end, and I was moving away from the light. And I remember saying, over and over ‘I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go. I need another chance. I’ve got so much to do.”

A few days later, and despite fearing the worst, the Icelandic doctors came back with “astonishing” news that the large tumour had completely disappeared.

He said: “It was an incredible situation to be in; to have something the size of a golf ball, that was supposedly in my brain, disappear within four days. I slowly gained my feeling and speech back and during that time of recovery, I was going through a lot of things, and processing a lot of emotions. I felt I should just cherish every moment.”

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