A doctor at a Chichester hospital who took part in a reality TV show which saw him and 15 others marooned on a desert island says it has made him realise how lucky we are.
Dr Daniel Quemby, who works part time as a consultant anaesthetist at St Richards Hospital, is one of the participants in this year’s The Island With Bear Grylls, which began its third series on Channel 4 last night.
The show sees eight men and eight women left on a desert island in the Pacific to fend for themselves.
The 42-year-old, who also works part-time as an A&E senior at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, was given access to basic medical supplies, plus a defibrillator. In case of emergency, he also had a radio.
“Those who think you are fed and get given Marks and Spencers food hampers every few days couldn’t be more wrong,” he said. “We were properly starving, but we knew that we were there for a finite period of time. Those starving in third-world countries don’t have that luxury of an end to their situation.
“I realised how privileged we are in the western world – that’s the big thing I took away from the island.”
But the worst part of the experience for him was the sandflies.
He said: “I was bitten 500 to 600 times and each time brings up a blister the size of a 5p piece. It was all day, every day. For some reason I got bitten more than anyone else.”
Others on the island were stung by scorpions and they also had to fend off boa constrictors and crocodiles.
Despite this, it was an experience he relished: “Make no mistake, it was very, very difficult, but I’ve always wanted to go to a desert island and feel real freedom from western society and all of its trappings.”
The father-of-three had been due to take part in both previous series, but deferred because of family circumstances – he has Reuben, six, Theo, four and Willow, now two.
He grew up on Exmoor in Devon, and started working at a monkey sanctuary aged eight where he developed his love of the science and nature.
Daniel added: “Being away from my family for two months was heartbreaking. My wife Frances looked after the children – it was hard being on the island, but looking after three children was even harder.
“I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass and my wife told me I should go this time.”