An Ilfracombe man who was on the brink of death due to a rare form of Leukaemia is now taking on a walking challenge for Over and Above.

Richard Barnes' life changed forever in June last year when an aching leg quickly escalated into a life-threatening situation.

The 48-year-old visited A&E when his leg began hurt to swell one morning – the next thing he remembers is waking up two weeks later.

What Richard did not know, was that he had established a 'flesh eating disease', necrotising fasciitis, and was subsequently diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia.

“I was rushed to surgery and operated on immediately, as the leg had to be removed at the hip to prevent the disease from spreading,” said Richard.

Richard and his wife Ali preparing for the walk.Richard and his wife Ali preparing for the walk.

“Now unconscious, I was fighting for my life in ICU. My body was riddled with sepsis and the prognosis was poor.

Discussions were had between the medical teams to determine which additional limbs may have to be amputated.

“Thankfully for me each time the surgeon was called back to amputate he diagnosed that the issues with my limbs were not the same as my lost leg, so my right leg and arms remain,” said Richard.

After two weeks, Richard began to come round, but his condition suddenly deteriorated and he ended up having a stroke, putting him back into an induced coma.

“The prognosis was so bad that my family were told there was no way back and spent the next day saying their goodbyes,” he said.

“But by some amazing miracle I survived. I woke to my wife explaining to me that I had been asleep for a further week.

“With a tracheostomy in my throat I couldn't yet speak but slowly from this point I started to improve.”

Richard was in hospital until August, beating the estimate the doctors gave him to leave by four months.

With physio plans and chemotherapy, he began to recover, and now he is cancer free and back at work, while he learns how to walk again with the help of a prosthetic leg.

Now Richard is planning a six-mile walk along the Tarka Trail on June 8, in aid of the £1.5million appeal to build a new cancer and wellbeing centre.

He added: “The staff at North Devon District Hospital saved my life and I will never be able to thank them enough for the incredible treatment and care I had.

“I will always be in their debt which is why I have volunteered to be a fund raiser and in some small way give back.”

Richard's Ampuversary Walk is almost a year to the day he was admitted to hospital. To support him visit his fundraising page here.

If you would like to give your support to the hospital charity Over and Above, or want to find out more please visit and the charity's facebook page or contact the North Devon District Hospital Fundraising Team on 01271 311772 or email