Alternative Christmas Message 2014: Ebola survivor William Pooley to deliver speech

The British nurse will address the epidemic in Channel 4's broadcast

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The Independent Culture

British Ebola survivor William Pooley has been confirmed to deliver the Alternative Christmas Message this year.

The 29-year-old nurse will call for a global solution to the epidemic in a broadcast from the Connaught Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Pooley returned to work in the West African country after recovering from the deadly virus in London.

“I don’t want to make you feel guilty but I would like you to think just for a few minutes about what you could do to help,” he will say.

“This is a global problem and it will take the world to fix it. What a wonderful Christmas present that would be.”


Pooley follows the likes of Sharon Osbourne, Ali G and US whistleblower Edward Snowden in delivering Channel 4’s answer to the Queen’s Christmas Day speech.

To date, Ebola has claimed nearly 7,400 lives across West Africa and Pooley knows he was “extremely fortunate” to survive.

“Ebola is unlike any disease I’ve ever witnessed. Nothing can prepare you for the effect it has on the infected, on their families and on their communities,” he will add.

“My exposure to this disease reinforced the belief that when people need help it’s important that it’s given.

“I realise I was incredibly lucky, lucky to be born in a wealthy country, lucky to be well-educated, lucky to have access to the best possible treatment.

“Thousands of people here in West Africa have not had that luck. They have died often lonely, miserable deaths without access to proper medical attention.

“If anything, Christmas should focus our minds on our kinship with people in all corners of the globe. We are all brothers and sisters. I’m sure we would all help a brother or sister in need.”

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, promises "a message of love and hope which inspires" from Pooley.

The Alternative Christmas Message will air on Channel 4 at 1.50pm on Christmas Day.