Gerard and Nina Basset said that they have been overwhelmed by the messages of good wishes they have received since it was revealed on Twitter that the celebrated sommelier had a life expectancy of only six to 12 months.
Gerard, a Master of Wine, co-founder of the Hotel de Vin chain and former World’s Best Sommelier, was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer in 2017. He received a three-month course of chemotherapy before undergoing a major operation in February this year.
Within two months he was suffering pain again and following a series of scans, it was confirmed in July that the cancer had returned in three different places.
Nina told The Caterer: “We were told that palliative care was now the best option and we were offered to be under the care of a local hospice. As yet Gerard has not taken up the palliative care or the hospice’s care programme as he doesn’t feel mentally ready to give up the fight.”
The couple decided to turn to Gerard’s home country of France for treatment. “We are now spending seven to 10 days in France every three weeks for Gerard to have ‘gentle’ chemo, intense but ‘soft’ radiotherapy and a very special, bespoke immune therapy,” explained Nina.
“It is a very slow gradual protocol which as yet hasn’t reaped rewards as his cancer is so aggressive and fast spreading, but we are hopeful that it may balance out soon and the immune therapy may start to kick in, in which case it may buy him some precious time.”
Nina added that being in France for treatment, away from home, was “difficult and stressful”, but that “messages of support and kindness have helped hugely”.
She said that they had been particularly “bowled over by the outpouring of love and kindness and the respect that so many people have shown him in recent days” since wine writer Tom Stevenson revealed on Twitter that Gerard’s condition was terminal.
Stevenson wrote: “My dear friend, the brilliantly talented, humble and inspirational @GerardBassetOBE has started a new treatment in France with the prognosis that his oesophageal cancer is terminal/incurable with a life span of 6-12 months. My heart goes out to him, to Nina and their son Romané.”
Gerard, 61, was named the World’s Best Sommelier in 2010 and has since won a plethora of awards including two Cateys (the Special Award in 2010 and Wine and Spirit Ambassador Award in 2014), an OBE for services to the hospitality industry in 2011 and the Order du Mérite Agricole from the French government earlier this year.
Following the sale of Hotel du Vin, Gerard and Nina opened Hotel TerraVina at the gateway to the New Forest in Netley Marsh, Hampshire, in 2007. The business was relaunched in the summer as an 11-bedroom boutique B&B called Spot in the Woods with the Kitchen Café.