War hero loses battle against C-diff

IPSWICH Hospital today stressed it was doing everything it could to tackle Clostridium difficile after a Dunkirk veteran died after contracting the super bug.

IPSWICH Hospital today stressed it was doing everything it could to tackle Clostridium difficile after a Dunkirk veteran died after contracting the super bug.

Ted Vickery escaped the clutches of the Germans on the beaches of France during the Second World War, installed communications in Churchill's underground Cabinet War Rooms and survived a torpedo attack in the Mediterranean.

But more than 60 years later he fell victim to a devastating bug plaguing the NHS.

Mr Vickery's son Robin, an Ipswich borough councillor, today told how he watched his 88-year-old father's condition deteriorate rapidly after he contracted the highly contagious bug while in Shotley ward.

Robin Vickery, who lived with his father in Old Hall Close, Henley, said: “He'd been in hospital for just over a month. He went in with pneumonia and they were getting to grips with that.

“Then he caught C. difficile. He went downhill very quickly.

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“The C-diff was the straw that broke the camel's back.

“He was approaching it like all the other battles in his life but this was one battle he just couldn't win.

“He was the second one that we know of that had gone down with C-diff in that ward.”

The hospital today said fighting the spread of the bug was among its highest priorities.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokesman, said: “Patient safety is our absolute number one priority. We are making significant progress in reducing MRSA. Reducing the number and rate of C-diff is our biggest challenge.

“It is when you are at your most vulnerable that you are most affected and the infection is the most damaging.

“If somebody is very frail getting an infection can be very challenging for them to get over.”

Ted Vickery was a well-known Ipswich war veteran who had celebrated his 21st birthday on the beach at Dunkirk in May 1940.

He had served with the Royal Corps of Signals and was based at Arras in northern France. After being evacuated in the nick of time, he was later posted to north Africa and had to be rescued from the Med by the Navy after a torpedo attack.

He survived the attack and went on to witness the liberation of Italy.

He had entered the war effort as a trained Post Office engineer and had set up communications for British forces in France before being ordered to destroy them and flee for Dunkirk.

The father of three was a keen cricketer and each year teams in the Ipswich Inter-Firms League play for the Ted Vickery Cup in recognition of his contribution to the sport.

His funeral will be held on Friday, May 2 at the West Chapel at Ipswich Crematorium at 11am. Donations can be made to Mr Vickery's favourite charity, the RNLI.

Do you want to pay tribute to Ted Vickery? Do you know someone who has caught C-Diff in Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

TED Vickery told of his joy at welcoming some of the Little Ships which helped evacuate 300,000 troops from the beaches of France when they visited Ipswich.

Last year he recalled his role in the evacuation effort when he told The Evening Star: “My comrade and I were the last to leave the headquarters in an armoured vehicle but after six or seven kilometres we had to leave that. We disabled it and made it the rest of the way on foot.

“It was about 30 miles and then we got to the beach where there were already thousands of people waiting.

“We got there the day before my birthday - May 22 - and had a bit of good luck. We chanced upon an army postman and he had a package for me from home, a huge block of Cadbury's chocolate from my mother.

“I had a chunk every day, two on my birthday, and it was all I had to eat on the beach. I didn't get taken off until May 30.”

And he also remembered being attacked by German planes as the troops waited to be saved from the advancing Germans.

“There was one occasion when a damaged German bomber was chased by a Spitfire. We all cheered when the bomber came down.”

Born in Norwich, Ted Vickery was the all-England schoolboys long-jump champion at 14.

He married Mim in 1942 and they moved to Ipswich in 1969. The couple were together for 58 years until Mim died in December 2000.

They had three children - two daughters Susan, now Susan Marchant who lives in Great Wakering, Essex, and Pam, now Pam Debenham who lives in Ipswich, and a son, Robin.

Ted Vickery worked for GPO Telephones - now BT - and rose to area executive officer in charge of about 100 people. He was based at the Telephone Exchange Centre in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich.

Robin Vickery said: “He was a quiet bloke but very friendly, he'd always got time to talk to people. He liked a laugh and a joke.

“He played cricket until he was 60. Once he packed up with cricket he started to play more golf and then he played more croquet.”

His skills as an engineer saw him used by the army here in England, at Bentwaters and in helping to install the communications in the underground Cabinet War Rooms used by Churchill to plan his war strategies.

Ted Vickery died on April 17. A week prior to him going into hospital he had been driving himself around and had been to the Regent to see a show.

Even at 88 he relished the task of doing deliveries for Bloomingdale's in Dale Hall Lane, Ipswich, his son's greengrocers and florist shop.