A year like no other: the Corby Covid survivor who is glad to be alive

Des Barber was in ICU for 19 days

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 7:00 am

Life is precious - that's the message from Corby DJ Des Barber who spent a gruelling 19 days in ICU suffering from Covid.

Des had begged the doctors not to put him into an induced coma as he struggled to breathe, a decision he took that he thinks saved his life allowing him to eventually pull through to beat the killer disease.

Today (March 23) marks exactly one year since prime minister Boris Johnson ordered the nation to stay at home under the first set of lockdown restrictions.

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Des had to wear the face mask 24 hours a day

And this time last year Des said he was so worried he was coming down with the virus he had stayed at home and isolated, taking health chiefs' warnings seriously.

He said: "That first week I thought I might have the virus so I stayed at home - I had flu-like symptoms - but it turned out to be a cold. I took all the warnings very seriously.

"This time last year we were thinking it might only be for a month and we'll be back to normal. They wouldn't close the schools for that long for no reason."

The Corby Radio team was told to work from home, leaving only two members of staff to keep the station going, including Des, to boost morale of the listeners stuck at home.

Des in KGH ICU

Keeping in touch with the people of Corby over the airways, Des made sure that he kept spirits high.

He said: "The listeners are like our family, we are their buddies. Our job is to cheer people up. It was quite tough to do."

In October, Des was recognised for his community work by Corby Lions helping lift spirits during lockdown one with his radio show, but it was in the same month that Des' worst fears became a reality.

Both Des and his wife Karen had to be rushed into Kettering General Hospital (KGH) on October 23, 2020, when they became increasingly ill after testing positive for the virus.

Des Barber

Returning home, the radio presenters were recovering but when Des' health dipped, he was blue-lighted back to KGH in to receive medical care, ending up in ICU on oxygen and gasping for breath.

He said: "I had a mask on all day and night, but that mask was nothing in comparison to the PPE that the staff have to wear. They saved my life.

"After my first three days I was on a liquid diet of soup and water. The consultant said he might have to put me in an induced coma. I begged him not to - I think that saved my life."

A year on from the start of the first UK-wide lockdown, the 61-year old station manager and radio presenter is still suffering from the after effects of the deadly virus.

The father-of-three and grandfather-of-seven, who lives with underlying health issues including heart problems and diabetes, has returned to his radio show but has only been able to manage a couple of hours a day before feeling the effects of the Covid.

He said: "I can't walk to the kitchen without getting out of breath. The fatigue is something else. I've been told that I have pneumonia - and that's five months on."

Now he has had the vaccine and although he was 'aching all over' is pleased to have been given the jab.

He added: "Last year has been a bit of a blur. It has gone by so quick. I think this time next year we will be out and about and seeing people. In the meantime people need to wear their masks and take Covid seriously."