A 75-YEAR-OLD man has celebrated recovering from Covid-19 with a well-earned pint of Guinness atop one of the Mourne mountains.
Damien Hamilton from Armagh was admitted to Craigavon Area Hospital back in January after contracting the deadly coronavirus and becoming seriously ill.
He spent a month there and, at one point, had to receive Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP) because his breathing wasn’t improving.
Medics later told his son, Conor Hamilton a former nurse and lecturer at Queen’s, that they had reached his father just in time given the seriousness of his condition.
Isolated due to the contagious nature of the virus, Damien stayed in touch with friends and family by phone and text. That contact proved crucial to his recovery with his son Conor and brother David coming up with a brilliant way to motivate him to recover from the virus.
A former runner who remained fit and healthy despite his advancing years, Damien’s family set him the goal of one day enjoying a pint of Guinness on the Slieve Doan once he had recovered.
"He loves the outdoors, being a former marathon runner and someone who has walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, so we told him that when he's better, we would climb Slieve Doan and enjoy a Guinness at the top," Conor told the Irish News.
"The nurses told us that from that point onwards, dad began recovering faster than before, knowing he had a challenge to meet."
After being discharged earlier this year, Damien’s training began.
It started with practice walks involving a rollator and oxygen tank before gradually building up to the epic 562 metre walk up Doan.
In January this fella was in Craigavon Hospital on CPAP with Covid. We set him a goal of climbing Doan in the Mournes and having a Guinness. Yesterday he did it. That's my dad!! Thank you @NHS @healthdpt @SouthernHSCT#NHSheroes #GUİNNESS pic.twitter.com/kha07E3eFu
— conor hamilton (@hamrocks) April 4, 2021
Last weekend, Damien achieved his target. Posing for a photo with his prized pint of Guinness atop of Doan alongside his son and beloved grandchildren Meabh and Caolan.
The photo was shared on social media, where it drew a brilliant response from friends, family and well-wishers alike.
An incredible achievement and wonderful way to mark his recovery, while Damien’s determination helped him overcome coronavirus both he and his son have been keen to pay tribute to the incredible work of the healthcare staff who nursed him back to help.
Conor to the Irish News: "As a family, we would like to say a huge thank you to all of the staff at Craigavon Area Hospital for taking care of dad.”