UEA graduate and Ebola survivor Will Pooley to give alternative TV Christmas message

UEA graduate William Pooley, who survived Ebola and will give the Alternative Christmas Day message.

UEA graduate William Pooley, who survived Ebola and will give the Alternative Christmas Day message. Pic: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

University of East Anglia graduate and Ebola survivor Will Pooley will give this year's Alternative Christmas message address for Channel 4.

And his tutor at the UEA has praised the work the former Norwich student has done to raise awareness of the disease.

Mr Pooley, who studied in the School of International Development, was the first Briton to contract Ebola, while working as a nurse in Sierra Leone.

He was treated in London and made a full recovery - going back to continue his nursing.

Speaking from the Connaught Hospital in Freetown Sierra Leone, he will call for a global solution to the epidemic, which has killed more than 7,000 people.

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He said: 'This is a global problem and it will take the world to fix it. 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.

'My exposure to this disease reinforced the belief that when people need help it's important that it's given.

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'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.

'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. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be.'

Dr John McDonagh, head of UEA's School of International Development, said: 'Will was a great student. His commitment and calm, friendly, collegial approach are well remembered by those who taught him.

'We are so proud of him for the work he has done since leaving UEA and the impact he is making on the ground in Sierra Leone.

'He has also done so much to inform people of the urgent and tragic crisis that has unfolded around Ebola in recent months. The calm advocacy and mobilization role he has played has had a huge influence on public opinion and, I suspect, government policy.'

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

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