Durban — An elderly Covid-19 survivor was awarded a medal by Netcare Kingsway Hospital, where he was treated and recovered from the virus, for achieving his goal of walking 900km before turning 90 to raise funds for the families of healthcare workers who lost their lives to Covid-19.
Bill Wedderburn who celebrated his 90th birthday in June this year, was admitted to Netcare Kingsway Hospital in eManzimtoti with Covid-19 and pneumonia in January 2021, during the second wave of the pandemic in South Africa. Despite suffering from chronic kidney disease and undergoing treatment for prostate cancer at the time, Wedderburn made a full recovery.
Wedderburn said: “I have no doubt that my survival was thanks to the efforts of the doctors and nurses who looked after me at the hospital. I was deeply saddened to hear that one of the hospital’s nurses who was only 36 years old at the time had lost her life to Covid-19. This got me thinking about all the families of healthcare workers who would be so badly affected by the loss of their loved ones and in many cases perhaps their sole breadwinner.”
“I spoke to my family about what we could do to make a difference and I decided to commit to walking 900km before my 90th birthday – 100km to mark each decade of my life – as a fundraising initiative. I stuck to doing an average of 3.8km per day and continued to walk even whilst visiting family in the UK.”
During the year, Wedderburn also had to undergo a cataract procedure in Gauteng, which was combined with some dental care he required in order to minimise time spent in surgery and hospital. This however did not stop the determined octogenarian, who continued walking during his recovery at his daughter’s home in Johannesburg.
The number nine has turned out to be a significant one for Wedderburn who on June 9, 2022, celebrated his 90th birthday, having fulfilled his 900km pledge with over R90 000 raised in donations to the non-profit fund that he established.
Netcare Kingsway Hospital general manager Annatjie Demetriou said the hospital team was overcome by Wedderburn’s commitment to making a difference to the families of healthcare workers who had succumbed to Covid-19.
“Bill Wedderburn is a truly remarkable human being and we felt that he deserved nothing short of a medal for what he has achieved. We were therefore overjoyed to present him with a medal of appreciation inscribed with the words ‘900km for Nurses’,” Demetriou said.
“We hope that this token of our gratitude expresses how meaningful Mr Wedderburn’s commendable initiative has been for us all here at Netcare Kingsway Hospital. Every day we think of the healthcare workers who lost their lives to Covid-19, and it is truly heartwarming to know just what a difference this kind gentleman is making for their families. He is an inspiration to us all.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Bill Wedderburn’s fund can do so via BackaBuddy: