Doctor gets on board to help tackle Ebola crisis

Portrait of LT (DR) Dan Hawkins on RFA Argus enroute to Sierra Leone.
Portrait of LT (DR) Dan Hawkins on RFA Argus enroute to Sierra Leone.

Another doctor with roots in the Warwick district is on his way to Sierra Leone to help tackle the Ebola crisis.

Royal Navy doctor Dan Hawkins, who lives in Radford Semele, is currently on aviation support ship RFA Argus, which is set to land at the West African country sometime this week.

Over the past few weeks, we have reported on how Dr Paul Gully volunteered to travel to Sierra Leone with the World Health Organisation (see story on the top right of this page).

Dr Gully used to live in Leamington and set up the One World Link between the district and Bo in Sierra Leone - a link which is still going strong today.

Surgeon Lieutenant Hawkins’s role is doctor of the ship, which means he will be looking after the health and wellbeing of roughly 150 personnel while the ship is conducting exercises or on operations.

But he is also aviation medicine qualified, meaning he will look after an additional 80 men and women from 820 Naval Air Squadron who are embarked in Argus to fly Royal Navy Merlin helicopters from ship to shore with personnel, stores and equipment.

The 34-year-old said: “It has been a steep learning curve for all the ship’s company to get up to speed with something they know little about, but all the Ebola training has really paid off and I’m confident of the positive contribution we will make. I’m not really worried about Ebola as the risk to the ship is minimal. Malaria is a bigger problem – you can stay away from Ebola but you cannot avoid the mosquitoes and that is why everyone onboard is taking anti malarials.

Dan attended the University of Warwick and studied Biomedical and Clinical Chemistry before reading for a PhD in Bio Nanotechnology.

He lives in Radford Semele with his partner, Nicole, who is a GP in Leamington.

Dan joined RFA Argus 16 months ago and the relief effort to Sierra Leone is his first international deployment with the Royal Navy.

“The Royal Navy has invested a lot of time in my training and now I’m going to be putting all of that into action,” he said.

“My parents were concerned when I told them I was going to Sierra Leone because of what they had seen, read, and heard, in the media. But when I told them about all the screening and safety steps that are in place they felt better and are now pleased with the role I will be playing.”

n The Friends of Bo Club at All Saints’ Junior School in Warwick (part of the One World Link) discussed how best to respond to the Ebola crisis - and the children decided to organise some fundraising and to write prayers for their link school (see picture above). They held a non-uniform day (wearing green, white and blue instead – the colours of the flag of Sierra Leone) and lots of families donated cakes for the cake sale. The total raised was over £330, which will go directly towards the One World Link.