Local soldier joins the fight against Ebola epidemic

Hawick soldier James Moffat has been posted to Sierra Leone where he will be in the front line of the battle against Ebola.

As a paramedic in the Army Medical Services, the former high school pupil has been sent to help in the West African country as it continues to battle the epidemic, joining the UK’s effort to combat the spread of the deadly, and highly infectious disease.

And mum Helen, also from Hawick, has spoken of her immense pride as her son, who is a sergeant, once again risks his own life to help others.

“This latest deployment to Sierra Leon worries me, but, knowing James, he will, and always does, his job to the highest ability,” she told the Hawick News.

James, a graduate of the University of Cumbria, is working in the Kerrytown Ebola Virus Disease Treatment Unit. This is in stark contrast to his previous tours of duty to Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, during which he was predominantly an infantry soldier and combat medic.

After leaving school, James went straight into the army, and since then has been all over the world. But Mrs Moffat admits that despite the joy his continued service brings, she never stops being concerned for his safety.

She said: “I was worried sick when James was deployed to Iraq and was constantly glued to Sky News for any information.”

James eventually returned home safely but, according to his mum, was “a changed boy” after the things he had seen. However, when he was later deployed to Afghanistan, the passionate paramedic knuckled down and excelled. “I knew this was more dangerous but James got on with the task in hand,” she added. “Without going into to much detail, I know he was an unsung hero and l am very, very proud of my son.”

Speaking of his latest deployment, James, who was brought up in the west end of Hawick, said: “We need to help to contain this horrible disease at its source, and in the process, help local healthcare workers to deliver the best treatment to the Sierra Leoneans suffering from this terrible virus.”

The disease is thought to have originated when a child in a bat-hunting family contracted the disease in Guinea in 2013.