Watch the full interview with Raymond Blanc
Chef Raymond Blanc has praised the NHS staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford who treated him for Covid-19.
The award-winning chef, who runs Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons restaurant at Great Milton in Oxfordshire, spent a month at the hospital fighting coronavirus after being admitted there with a high fever in December.
Raymond said his "lowest point" was when those caring for him wanted to put him on to a respirator as they were "panicked".
He said: "I begged them for three more days for me to fight on my own, because I know if I went on the respirator you're not in charge of your own destiny, and I like to be in charge of my own destiny.
"So I fought and I managed to win through meditation. I tried for 40 years to meditate and I could never succeed... but there on that hospital bed... I managed to focus on living, on friends on life and I won my fight.
"Three days later, my oxygen levels improved and I was in a good way. It was a bit frightening but I realise I am very lucky, and I think I will appreciate life so much better and maybe do a bit less."
Despite the gruelling treatment, Raymond said the experience was "enriching on a number of levels".
"First to see the NHS staff, whether they are the caterers, the nurses, the consultants, the doctors, they were completely amazing.
"I work in world of excellence and I know what it takes, but these people were absolutely amazing, working 13-14 hours a day, working night shifts, not seeing their parents for up to six months.
"It was really humbling to see this extraordinary team with such a big heart and I would like to thank them so very much."
When asked about the hospital food, Raymond said it was "a bit of a shock to start with" but he knew they are the building blocks to rebuild your health, so he "scoffed it all".
He said the ice cream was "excellent" and the custard and plums were "always amazing".
He praised the catering staff at the hospital as to "cater for that huge amount is serious and with such a small budget".
Raymond said the first thing he did when he got home was walk in the garden.
He said he took a few steps and "collapsed" because he was not used to walking on grass, and he was "out of breath in no time".
He said the experience of being in the garden again was "so emotional" and a "joy" as he had not been home for two and a half months.
Thankfully Raymond has now recovered, despite still suffering from some breathing difficulties.
He said: "I was given so much knowledge, so much care, so much love, that I want to say thank you to them."
Raymond says he will organise a "big party" for the NHS staff who treated him to say thank you for everything they have done.