Hemel Hempstead: Man walks to Watford Hospital to support NHS 'angels'

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image captionClint Whitaker completed the walk in just over four hours

A man who almost died from coronavirus has started a weekly walk to his local hospital to raise money for the NHS "angels" who saved his life.

Clint Whitaker, 54, was put in an induced coma on 22 March after contracting Covid and did not leave Watford General Hospital until 12 May.

The pub landlord from Hemel Hempstead suffered permanent nerve damage.

On Sunday, he completed the 9.3-mile (14.9km) walk from his home to the hospital, and has so far raised £3,750.

Mr Whitaker wants to pay for intensive care unit nurses to receive group wellbeing sessions from the Buckinghamshire-based Lindengate Mental Health Charity to help them cope with the stresses of their life-saving work during the pandemic.

'You are angels'

After completing the walk, Mr Whitaker said: "When a soldier goes into battle he's got a weapon... that's what makes him a hero because he's got a 50:50 chance.

"You angels [NHS nurses] go into battle with nothing and you are angels to me.

"From the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me back to my wife and my kids so I can spend a bit more time with them."

Mr Whitaker began the walk in Hemel Hempstead at just before 09:00 GMT, arriving outside the hospital four hours and three minutes later.

Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio, he said he felt "sore", but after "a nice hot bath and a decent barbecue" cooked by his son, would begin preparing to repeat the walk next weekend.

"I'm going walk every Sunday until we maintain momentum in the fundraising," said Mr Whitaker, who hopes to raise £100,000.

Marie Whitaker, who supported her husband on his walk, said: "He is a go-getter, he's out to help people in any way he can - this time it's the NHS.

"If it wasn't for them, he wouldn't be standing here now. He's an absolute warrior."

Sofia Sheikh, charity director for West Hertfordshire Hospital's charity Raise, said the organisation was "touched" by Mr Whitaker's determination "to find a way to thank our phenomenal staff".

She added that employees were offered a "wide range" of support, including an onsite counselling service, support from a pastoral care team and a 24/7 employee assistance programme.

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