A Magheralin man who spent several months in Africa helping fight the Ebola crisis has been honoured by the Ministry of Defence.
Chris Wooster, who worked in a laboratory with the hospital dealing with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, returned home to find he had been awarded the medal.
Sailors, Royal Marines, naval aviators and medics who helped to stem the tide of Ebola in Sierra Leone are to receive the medal honouring their efforts.
Chris (23) had been told by friend who is a nurse that Public Health England were looking for volunteers to go to Sierre Leone during the Ebola crisis last December.
Chris applied and last May he flew over to start his first deployment with Public Health England.
He started work in a laboratory beside the facility in Makeni which was treating patients suffering from the Ebola virus.
After he finished his five week deployment and returned home, he knew he wanted to go back. “I really got to know a lot of the locals,” he said. He explained that the lab had to be in the Ebola Treatment Centre as there was a very high risk transporting the Ebola virus.
“It was safer not having to transport it. Doctors and nurses took samples from patients and it was brought to the lab where we made it safe and tested it,” he said.
Chris, a past pupil of Magheralin Village PS and Banbridge Academy, loved it so much he did a double deployment in August.
A graduate from Queen’s University, Belfast in Biochemistry, Chris had been working as a lab technician at BioSearch, a private firm in Belfast.
“I don’t think you can go somewhere like Sierre Leone and not be changed by it. People over here are always complaining about things like the internet is too slow. However people over there are so poor. It is one of the poorest countries in the world.
“When you see how people are living in the townships, yet they are all so happy,” he said.
Chris said he never thought about catching Ebola adding that they were all given excellent training.