The family of former Leeds and Bradford rugby player Errol Johnson made a heartfelt donation this week to say thank you to hospital staff, who nursed him through an exhaustive battle with Covid-19.

Errol, 51, has spent more than seven weeks at St James’s University Hospital, three of which were on an intensive care ward, where he was placed in a medically induced coma. With his discharge pending, Errol’s friends and family paid a visit to the hospital with his former teammate, Ikram Butt, to thank the medical team who looked after him.

Ikram, an ambassador for UK-based ‘One Family’, has been leading volunteer teams to deliver Frontline Care Boxes to NHS staff across the country. On Tuesday, Ikram and Errol’s family dropped off care boxes with Leeds Cares, the charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals. The care boxes will be distributed to staff on the intensive care unit and the respiratory ward, where Errol is currently a patient.


Ikram Butt said: “I was delighted to hear of Errol’s recovery, having kept up to date with his progress since he became unwell in March. I am therefore delighted to join Errol’s family to deliver these care packs to the heroes who looked after him, initiating a partnership between One Family and Leeds Cares, which will see hundreds of care packs delivered to hospitals across Leeds in the weeks ahead.”

The care boxes, the idea of a junior doctor for her colleagues, are designed to provide respite to NHS staff working long hours under stressful conditions. Each pack is carefully packed with much needed essentials such as toiletries, foot care products, healthy snacks, energy tablets, and even some sweet treats, all thanks to generous donations One Family has received from brands such as Swish To Go, Candy Kittens and global personal goods giant, Reckitt Benckiser. As family visitors are currently not allowed at the Trust, one of the nurses who has been looking after Errol came to accept the donation with representatives from the charity.

Giles Fretwell, part of the fundraising team at Leeds Cares, said donations like these made a huge difference: “Our hospital staff are working so incredibly hard to look after everyone in their care. They do this without expecting anything in return, so it makes it even more special when people surprise them - making the effort to say thank you and provide a care package to brighten up their day.”

If his condition continues to improve, Errol is expected to return home to his family at the end of the week, by which time he will have spent nearly two months in hospital.