Merlin Griffiths is seen in public for the first time since bowel tumour surgery at Royal Ascot


First Dates star Merlin Griffiths is seen in public for the first time since undergoing surgery for stage three bowel cancer

Merlin Griffiths has been seen for the first time in public after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour, following a stage three bowel cancer diagnosis.

The First Dates barman, 47, launched launch Royal Ascot’s first ever reduced and  alcohol-free bar on Tuesday as part of Harrogate Spring Water’s Mindful Drinking Mission.

He looked dapper in a navy suit and pink shirt while putting his drink mixing skills to good use, before being joined by Love Island‘s Dr. Alex George, 31.

Here he is! First Dates' Merlin Griffiths cut a navy suit as he was seen in public for the first time since bowel tumour surgery on Tuesday while launching an alcohol-free bar at Royal Ascot

Here he is! First Dates’ Merlin Griffiths cut a navy suit as he was seen in public for the first time since bowel tumour surgery on Tuesday while launching an alcohol-free bar at Royal Ascot

Appearing to be in high spirits, Merlin beamed from ear-to-ear while clinking his glass with Alex’s, as they posed for photographers.

He was discharged from hospital six days after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour, back in April.

The barman from the popular Channel 4 dating show revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with a stage three tumour on his bowel.

On the mend: He was discharged from hospital six days after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour, back in April

On the mend: He was discharged from hospital six days after undergoing surgery to remove a tumour, back in April

At the time, the TV personality shared a cheering update to Instagram, posting a selfie with blue skies behind him, writing: ‘And breathe. 6 days, start to finish.’

He added praise for the pioneering surgery, explaining: ‘Now for real #cancer recovery. I’ve had open laparotomies before and the recovery was 6 weeks in hospital before robotic surgery!! Amazing.’

Merlin added the hashtags to mark Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, writing: #nhs #davincisurgicalsystem #bowelcancerawarenessmonth #stoma.

Talented: He looked suave in his navy suit and pink shirt while putting his drink mixing skills to good use

Talented: He looked suave in his navy suit and pink shirt while putting his drink mixing skills to good use

Looking good: The TV personality (right) was soon joined by Love Island's Dr. Alex George, 31, (left) who cut a smart figure in a grey suit

Looking good: The TV personality (right) was soon joined by Love Island’s Dr. Alex George, 31, (left) who cut a smart figure in a grey suit

Making friends: Appearing to be in high spirits, Merlin beamed from ear-to-ear while clinking his glass with Alex's, as they posed for photographers

Making friends: Appearing to be in high spirits, Merlin beamed from ear-to-ear while clinking his glass with Alex’s, as they posed for photographers

He thanked the NHS for ‘literally saving his life’ after undergoing the ‘robotic’ surgery.

The TV personality looked frail in a candid selfie from his hospital bed, which he shared to Twitter while admitting he was suffering ‘aches and pains’.

In a post from the previous day, he wore a black face mask with unicorn prints while declaring he was ‘ready as he’ll ever be’ in an Instagram post before having the tumour removed.

Cheers: The Welsh physician (left) continued his look with a pale pink tie

Cheers: The Welsh physician (left) continued his look with a pale pink tie

Suave: He framed his face with round glasses and wore his brown hair in a side-swept style

Suave: He framed his face with round glasses and wore his brown hair in a side-swept style

Talented: Merlin looked like he was in his element as he did was he does best

Talented: Merlin looked like he was in his element as he did was he does best

He wrote: ‘Thank you #NHS for literally saving my life. #BowelCancerAwarenessMonth.’

Posting the same shot to the photosharing platform, he added: ‘2am. Tubes outta everywhere. Aches and pains. But no tumour! #bowelcancerawarenessmonth.’

Plugging April’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, he concluded: Ready as I’ll ever be. Tumour removal time. [champagne emoji] #bowelcancerawarenessmonth.’

Tragic: The barman from the popular Channel 4 dating show revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with a stage three tumour on his bowel

Tragic: The barman from the popular Channel 4 dating show revealed last year that he had been diagnosed with a stage three tumour on his bowel 

Fascinating: He also shared a photo of the four-armed 'robot' holding the surgical instruments and a camera, to give his followers an insight into the procedure

Fascinating: He also shared a photo of the four-armed ‘robot’ holding the surgical instruments and a camera, to give his followers an insight into the procedure

Candid: Plugging April's Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, he concluded: Ready as I'll ever be. Tumour removal time. [champagne emoji] #bowelcancerawarenessmonth'

Candid: Plugging April’s Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, he concluded: Ready as I’ll ever be. Tumour removal time. [champagne emoji] #bowelcancerawarenessmonth’

He also shared a photo of the four-armed ‘robot’ holding the surgical instruments and a camera, to give his followers an insight into the procedure. 

Merlin announced in March that he was due to have the operation, joking that he had three weeks to ‘get my s**t together’.

Last year, Merlin was told he has a 75 per cent chance of living for more than five years after medical tests unearthed a stage three tumour that measured 4.5cm in length. 

And updating his followers on his progress, he tweeted: ‘Operation scheduled. Three weeks to get my s**t together. Robotic surgery, welcome to the future!’ 

Unwell: Merlin announced in March that he was due to have the operation, joking that he had three weeks to 'get my s**t together'

Unwell: Merlin announced in March that he was due to have the operation, joking that he had three weeks to ‘get my s**t together’

He later thanked his fans for their well wishes, adding: ‘Thank you to everyone wishing me well. X May your lives be prosperous and filled with empathy and happiness.’ 

Robotic surgery sees surgeons view the operation through a magnified screen while a robotic machine with four arms holds the surgical instruments and a camera. The surgeon controls the arms of the machine and removes the cancer through keyhole surgery. 

Merlin received his bleak diagnosis from doctors at Northampton General Hospital, saying at the time that he was trying to keep a ‘positive outlook’.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror last year, Merlin said: ‘I’m keeping that positive outlook, but I’ve a morbid sense of humour. I tell people, ‘I have colorectal cancer… it’s a real pain in the ar*e!’

Merlin has a seven-year-old daughter called Alix with his partner Lucille, 40, who he has been with for more than a decade and will be by his side as he faces a year of life-saving treatment.

Diagnosis: Last year, he was told he has a 75 per cent chance of living for more than five years after medical tests unearthed a stage three tumour that measured 4.5cm in length

Diagnosis: Last year, he was told he has a 75 per cent chance of living for more than five years after medical tests unearthed a stage three tumour that measured 4.5cm in length 

When the barman told his young daughter of the troubling diagnosis he reassured her of the powers of modern medicine and gushed about the public healthcare system.

At the time, he said: ‘I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country, which is just so incredible.’ 

Keeping his emotions behind closed doors, Merlin admitted: ‘I’ve shed a tear in private. But you can choose ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’. I chose to lead my life as normal, to stick to the facts about it, and to keep putting one step in front of the other.’

'I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country': Merlin said he was remaining optimistic as he gushed about the public health service

‘I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country’: Merlin said he was remaining optimistic as he gushed about the public health service 

The TV personality, who became a household name alongside Fred Sirieix in the First Dates restaurant, started to feel pain in June but thought it was caused by an old stomach injury from a car accident in his 20s.

Merlin was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year and said his tumour looked like an alien and felt like a walnut stuck inside of him. 

Doctors discovered the tumour when they gave the barman an emergency sigmoidoscopy to probe his lower intestine after the star spent three months telling people he felt something wrong in his body. 

Merlin admitted he was terrified by the ordeal but immediately focused on his chances of survival following his diagnosis.  

Close: He told his co-workers in the First Dates restaurant about his diagnosis just a week after he told his family (pictured: Fiona Beck, Grant Urquhart, Daniella Kalita, Fred Sirieix, David, Cici Coleman and Merlin on the show)

Close: He told his co-workers in the First Dates restaurant about his diagnosis just a week after he told his family (pictured: Fiona Beck, Grant Urquhart, Daniella Kalita, Fred Sirieix, David, Cici Coleman and Merlin on the show) 

The star revealed that his tumour wanted to move into the tissue surrounding it but wasn’t ‘lymph’ – meaning the cancer thankfully hadn’t spread.  

Merlin told his co-workers in the First Dates restaurant, including maitre d’hotel Fred Sirieix, and waiters Grant Urquhart and CiCi Coleman, about his diagnosis just a week after he told his family.  

The barman admitted his peers were shocked and couldn’t help but question why bad things happen to good people.

BOWEL CANCER: THE SYMPTOMS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE 

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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