Doctor is risking all by going to Ebola epicentre

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The Warwick district is playing a role in helping those caught up in the world’s biggest ever Ebola disasters.

Not only will that involve help from here in Leamington, but it will also include first hand aid from a former doctor.

Dr Paul Gully has volunteered to go into the epicentre of the Ebola crisis to see what he can do to help those.

So far, hundreds of thousands of people have died from Ebola, which has swept across countries in West Africa.

One of the countries most affected is Sierra Leone, where Leamington has enjoyed strong links during its 30-year partnership with the town of Bo through the One World Link (OWL).

One of the OWL’s founder members back in the early eighties was Dr Gully, who brought up his young family in Farley Street, Leamington.

Now it has emerged that he has volunteered to the country’s captial city, Freetown, as a field co-ordinator for the World Health Organisation.

As the Courier went to press, Dr Gully was due to land in Sierra Leone.

His wife Lois said the family, who moved to Canada, said they are “frightened for his safety but, at the same time, are very supportive of his actions and are very proud of him.”

Cllr Jane Knight is a family friend and a member of OWL. She has been in constant communication with people in Sierra Leone, many of whom have visited Leamington several times over the years and built up strong bonds with schools and businesses.

She also spoke to Dr Gully before he left and has since spoken to his wife.

“We are all frightened for Paul’s safety but if anyone can do something to help others, it’s Paul,” said Cllr Knight.

“Many people will know him in Leamington and they know that he is a very unassuming and mild mannered person.

“I am sure he has concerns but he doesn’t show it. He wants to get in there and make his mark.

“We are all so proud of him.”

Dr Gully got his medical degree at the University of Birmingham in 1971 and then took on a placement in Leamington. He stayed and brought up his young family in the town.

He worked in a pioneering role in public health while he was here. After helping to set up OWL, he and his family moved to Canada in the early 1980s. Since then he has gone to hold major medical roles in Canada, as well as in the United Nations and World Health Organisation.

Cllr Knight said the OWL is in very early talks about setting up a post-Ebola fund to help rebuild Bo once the disease has been eradicated.

“Lots of people have asked how they can help and when I have asked the people in Sierra Leone the same question, they say there is nothing we can do at the moment,” she added.

“However, once the Ebola virus has gone, they will need a lot of help.”

As the Courier went to press, the idea of a post-Ebola fund was due to be discussed at OWL’s next meeting.