A team of NHS and Army medics gave up a traditional family Christmas to help save lives.

The group - including Huddersfield nurse Julie Flaherty - had a very different Christmas thousands of miles from home.

They spent the holiday in Sierra Leone, where Ebola has already claimed the lives of 3,000 people, and celebrated as patients recovered.

The group put their own lives at risk to help many, many others in a project funded by the Department of International Development.

And it meant a Christmas caring for dozens of patients in the treatment centree at Port Loko, rather than turkey and all the trimmings in the UK.

Children’s nurse Julie, 59, who has worked for the NHS for 42 years, is usually based at Salford Royal Hospital.

Describing her Christmas Day, the mum-of-seven from Marsden, Huddersfield, said: “I had time to phone home and spoke to hubby although both of us were a bit tearful.

“Then I phoned dad, 84 years and was even more tearful.

“I went to work at 1pm and learnt one patient Mariatu, 48, had sadly just died but Gibril, an employee at the camp who caught Ebola had survived - our first.”

Another NHS worker, paramedic Ged Kelly, 41, left wife Rachel at home in the West Midlands to join staff at the centre.

He said: “My family have been really supportive and backed me and while I like Christmas, it’s just a few days.

“Christmas day was spent working till 2pm, a busy but very rewarding day as I was able to discharge a patient during the shift as he was free of his Ebola and able to go home.

UK medics in an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone
 

“The staff sang and danced as he came out of the centre. It was an amazing experience that I’ll remember forever.”

Consultant psychiatrist Martin Deahl, 58, based in Newport, Shropshire, is also a Colonel in the Army Reserve.

The dad-of-two said he was missing nine-year-old daughter Cecily’s birthday but described this Christmas as “the most ­extraordinary of his life”.

He explained: “For our first week patients were bed-bound, distressed, unable to help themselves.

“Today, six out of 12 were outside the ward in the sun, and largely self caring. We must be doing something right.”

The Examiner’s sister paper, the Sunday Mirror has teamed up with charity Street Child to raise cash to care for children orphaned by Ebola in West Africa.

So far readers have donated £50,000.There are four ways to give to the Street Child Ebola Orphan Appeal:

● Text Ebolato 70660 to donate £5

● Set up a monthly donation by texting Streetchild £3, Streetchild £5 or Streetchild £10 to 70707

● Donate online at street-child.co.uk/donate

● Or send a cheque or postal order to: Street Child, 42-44 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AH