Belfast Telegraph

Ebola survivor's festive message

British Ebola survivor William Pooley is following in the footsteps of US whistleblower Edward Snowden and celebrities Sharon Osbourne and Ali G by delivering Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message.

The 29-year-old nurse, who famously returned to work in Sierra Leone after recovering in London from the deadly virus, will call for a global solution to the epidemic, the broadcaster said.

He delivers his message from the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Pooley will say: "I don't want to make you feel guilty, but I would like you to think just for a few minutes about what you could do to help.

"This is a global problem and it will take the world to fix it... What a wonderful Christmas present that would be."

In what is Channel 4's answer to the Queen's message to the nation, Pooley will tell viewers : "Ebola is unlike any disease I've ever witnessed. Nothing can prepare you for the effect it has on the infected, on their families and on their communities."

Ebola has claimed nearly 7,400 lives across west Africa.

The nurse, from Eyke in Suffolk, will say of his own treatment: "In the end I was extremely fortunate. My colleagues worked night and day to get me flown back to Britain for the best available treatment at the Royal Free in London. And thanks to this treatment I recovered within days."

But he will add: "My exposure to this disease reinforced the belief that when people need help it's important that it's given.

"I realise I was incredibly lucky, lucky to be born in a wealthy country, lucky to be well educated, lucky to have access to the best possible treatment for this awful disease.

"Thousands of people here in west Africa have not had that luck. They have died often lonely, miserable deaths without access to proper medical attention."

Pooley will say: "This is a good time to think about the sheer fortune of where and when we happen to be born.

"If anything, Christmas should focus our minds on our kinship with people in all corners of the globe. We are all brothers and sisters. I'm sure we would all help a brother or sister in need."

Channel 4's head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne said: "What a joy and honour it is for Channel 4 that William Pooley agreed to deliver this year's Alternative Christmas Message, a message of love and hope which inspires."

Last year, Snowden, who was behind the leak of documents revealing mass surveillance programmes, delivered the Alternative Christmas Message.

:: The Alternative Christmas Message will broadcast on Channel 4 at 1.50pm on Christmas Day.

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