Nurse helps Ebola victims in Africa

Rebecca Stretch from Carnforth, who is travelling to Sierra Leone to help Ebola victims.
Rebecca Stretch from Carnforth, who is travelling to Sierra Leone to help Ebola victims.

A caring nurse has volunteered to help Ebola victims in the formerly war torn Sierra Leone.

Rebecca Stretch, who was born and bred in Carnforth, will work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to train people in hospitals on how to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

She said: “My main interest is communicable diseases; it’s what I’m trained in.

“For me, this is the equivalent of training as a footballer and then being ‘called up’ to play in the biggest tournament. I know that will sound odd to people. I can’t really explain it; but it’s what I am trained to do.

“I think if somebody doesn’t help people there, then who will? We can’t just put a fence up and ignore the problem. It is dangerous but I am not reckless.

“I think I will be safe but things can go wrong even if you take the right precautions.

“Last time I went to Sierra Leone it was one of the most dangerous places on earth and I couldn’t go as far east as Kenema as it was too unsafe.

“This time is different – it is not a case of people purposefully harming people but a disease and all the suffering that brings.”

Rebecca, who is the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control, said: “The last thing you’ll feel like when you get home is a hero.

“It’s a huge problem but you can only deal with a small part of it. You come back feeling bad that you couldn’t do more.

“I’m really grateful to my colleagues in the Infection Prevention and Control Team for their support and who have made this possible.”

Claire Murdoch, Chief Executive, said, “Rebecca is very courageous and a very experienced nurse. I’m proud we have a volunteer to help in the unfolding human tragedy in West Africa and I’m full of admiration for her dedication.

“She has the skills that will save lives, and the bravery to do it.”

Rebecca went to Carnforth High and then Lancaster Girls Grammar and played the cornet in Morecambe Brass Band.

She still plays the cornet in the Salvation Army band at Chalk Farm, London.

She carried out her nursing training in North Manchester General and has worked in Blackpool Fylde and Wyre area as a infection control nurse and with Lancashire Ambulance as Infection Control Lead.

She has also worked at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London.

Ebola is a severe, often fatal, disease.

Latest figures estimate that more than 1,300 people have died from Ebola.