Hilton man joins the fight against ebola in Sierra Leone

Ebola aid volunteer Michael Paver.

Ebola aid volunteer Michael Paver. - Credit: Archant

A Hilton man is putting his life on the line to help the victims of ebola in west Africa.

As the scenes of devastation caused by the ebola crisis continue to be played out on our television screens, Michael Paver volunteered to join the fight against the disease on the front line.

The 52-year-old, of Maze Road, will be using his skills gained as an army medic, and in his current jobs as a paramedic in Rugby and as a nurse at the A&E department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, to try to aid the victims of the epidemic.

He flew out to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, on Saturday, where he will deliver urgent care to those afflicted. The volunteers will complete a week of training before moving to British-built ebola treatment centres across the country. They will then start work diagnosing and treating those who have contracted the virus, which has killed more than 5,000 people.

He is not expected home from the aid project – where he is among the first wave of about 30 NHS volunteers to be deployed by the Government – until the new year.

His wife Paula, 57, a healthcare assistant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, told The Hunts Post: “He’s a very quiet, unassuming man who doesn’t like to be in the limelight so I had to wait until he was at the airport to tell people.

“They picked 30 people who applied out of 2,000, so he’s very honoured to be chosen – they have chosen him because of his skills.”

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Mr Paver applied for the role about two months ago and his initial training involved about 10 days of intensive preparation at a Ministry of Defence facility in York. More teams of volunteers are set to leave in the coming weeks after hundreds came forward to offer their services.

Mrs Paver described her husband as a “highly trained” army medic who retired from the forces about 10 years ago and studied for a degree in nursing and paramedic science. During his army career, he served in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Northern Ireland.

The couple have lived in Huntingdonshire for about 14 years, and have a daughter, Lucy, 32, and grandchildren Maisey, three, and Archie, 11 months, who live in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Mrs Paver added: “I believe he heard the appeal for volunteers on the radio. I think he just felt so much for those people that are dying and obviously with his army training that’s what he has done all his life, he has fought for his country.

“I do feel very proud but it is mixed feelings. I feel I have done my bit for queen and country as a military wife. All of that was a very, very stressful time for me and Lucy. I felt I had done my bit and I thought it was time for me to relax, but it’s not to be.

“You just have to get on and I can’t stop him doing what he feels, otherwise he’s not happy. It is pretty stressful for me as you can imagine, but you can’t take the military out of the man.”

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said: “I have been really impressed with the numbers of NHS workers who have stepped forward to help the communities that have been devastated by ebola.

“I want to offer my thanks to all those that are going, their efforts will make a real difference in west Africa.”

Professor Tony Redmond, head of the charity UK Med, said: “The actions of these selfless volunteers in going and the actions of their colleagues and managers to release them and cover for their duties is testimony if ever there was to the altruism that lies at the core of the NHS. I am very proud of them all.”

International development secretary Justine Greening said Britain’s response to the crisis was one of its biggest to a disease outbreak, with almost 1,000 military personnel, scientists, healthcare and aid workers already on the ground.

She added: “But to beat Ebola we desperately need the experience and dedication of skilled doctors and nurses to care for the thousands of sick and dying patients who are not receiving the treatment they need.

“Every one of these NHS heroes will play a vital role in the fight against ebola. It is only because of their combined efforts that we stand a chance of defeating this disease.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “I want to thank the brave NHS volunteers who are heading to Sierra Leone today to help in the fight against Ebola. They embody the values at the heart of our health service, and their expertise and dedication is second to none.”