Entertainment & Arts

Ebola nurse to deliver Channel 4 Christmas message

William Pooley
Image caption William Pooley returned to work in Sierra Leone after recovering from Ebola in London

British Ebola survivor William Pooley is to deliver this year's The Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4.

The nurse, who returned to work in Sierra Leone after recovering from the disease in the UK, will call for a global solution to the epidemic.

He will deliver the message from the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Ebola has claimed more than 7,000 lives across west Africa.

"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," Pooley will say.

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

Pooley, from the Suffolk village of Eyke, travelled to eastern Sierra Leone in the summer to work as a nurse. In August, six weeks after his arrival, he became the first Briton to be evacuated from west Africa with the virus.

In the message, he says: "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."

He says he was "extremely fortunate" to be flown back to Britain for specialist treatment.

"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."

Channel 4 has broadcast an alternative Christmas message to the Queen's annual broadcast since 1993.

Previous speakers include Ali G, Sharon Osbourne, Simpsons character Marge Simpson and, in 2006, a British Muslim woman in a veil. Last year it was delivered by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

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

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