Four survivors of Covid-19 who met whilst fighting for their lives at Cheltenham General Hospital have formed a group to support each other and share their experiences.

Geoff Beadnell, Debbie Clifford, Jules Annan and Dave Lewins have adopted the joke nickname: 'The Covid Survivors Group'.

The group's main purpose is to talk about their experience of fighting for their life with the virus, having gone through it together.

The group want to meet regularly to discussed their experience of surviving the virus. Credit: ITV West Country

Geoff had been diagnosed with leukemia two months before catching the virus. At one point, Jules, who was in the bed next to him, thought that Geoff might not survive.

He told ITV News:

Geoff! I didn't think he was going to make it through the night, he was grey, he had a blood drip going into him, I actually phoned Dave and my wife to say, I can't handle this, the bloke in the bed opposite me is going to die. And the next morning it was such a relief to hear him coughing.

Jules Annan

Part of the trauma is the unpredictable nature of the virus. Debbie recalled how she 'went downhill very fast'.

It wasn't much fun. I got better, came out of ICU and then went downhill very very fast within 24 hours. I was put back on that godawful CPAP mask and held the hand of a doctor saying 'I don't think I am going to make it, I don't think I am ever going to be home again'.

Debbie Clifford
Debbie Clifford fighting for her life at Cheltenham General Hospital with Covid-19. Credit: ITV West Country

For Dave, he never thought he would find himself in the situation he did.

You're seeing empty beds, you are listening to doctors explaining that people aren't going to make it through the night, that's tricky. You just don't expect it, we wrap ourselves in cotton wool, you just don't think about that sort of thing.

Dave Lewins

Geoff and Jules both attended Cheltenham Festival before testing positive for Covid-19, which is where Geoff believes he caught it while queuing at a bar.

He says behind him was a man who was 'sweating profusely' and they came 'almost face to face'.

But ultimately he says he will 'never know'.

It was my choice to go, and I felt fit, even though I had been diagnosed with leukemia, but no one said to me you mustn't go to the races!

Geoff Beadnell
Jules Annan says he could have caught the virus either through his work as a photographer or at Cheltenham Races, but he doesn't know which one. Credit: ITV West Country

However Jules is uncertain about where he caught the virus.

He says it could have been transmitted whilst carrying out his work as a photographer, where he has to be out and about in a variety of places.

Cheltenham Festival took place in mid March when the government guidance allowed for the event to take place.

The racecourse says that by staying open it was following the guidelines safely.

Since recovering from the virus, Dave and Jules both tried to take part in a trial to help fight it, but ultimately, due to their medical history, could not.

The group now plans to make these meetings a regular occurrence, and are encouraging other survivors. to do the same.

We've all been through the same experience, and it's great just to compare notes. To see where we are, to see where we were, and to see where we are going to go.

Jules Annan
  • Watch Ken Goodwin's full report here: