The police officer who was poisoned by novichok as he responded to the attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury has told of his rollercoaster physical and mental recovery.
Nick Bailey ran the Salisbury Marathon on Sunday in the city he was poisoned in, to raise money for the intensive care unit at the hospital where staff saved his life.
DS Bailey was poisoned by the nerve agent which was used to attack Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, at the former spy’s home in the Wiltshire city in March last year.
He had been wearing a hazmat suit, but after touching the door, where the majority of the agent was found, he felt unwell and was taken to hospital two days later where he was told he had been poisoned.
He told Sky News he wanted to take on the marathon challenge in the same city to give himself a physical and mental focus for recovery, as well as to raise money for the hospital where he was treated.
He said: “I took quite a knock with the poisoning, both mentally and physically and I wanted to have something to work towards.
“I also wanted to give something back to the hospital, so I started in February with the fundraiser and it went from there.”
Despite being in a serious condition when he was poisoned, DS Bailey hinted that he had remained positive he would be back on his feet during his recovery.
He said: “I never at any point thought I wouldn’t be in a position to do this but there have been so many uncertainties.
“It was difficult to know what was next.
“It’s nice to be here and I have to thank the staff that I can be here today.”
DS Bailey described his recovery, both physically and mentally, as a rollercoaster and added: “You have to keep battling through it, and make the best of it.”
Although he admitted he is “not back to normal” he said he is “getting close”, adding there were “unresolved things to sort out”.
DS Bailey was released from hospital after two-and-a-half weeks but he could not go home as his family can no longer live in their house due to the contamination.
Everything the Baileys owned had to go, including their cars, all the children’s toys, and all their possessions.
He said he could not have recovered without the love and patience of his wife, Sarah, or their children, as well as his extended family.
Of the race itself, he said: “I’m exhausted, but I feel brilliant, it’s really good to have finished it.
“The last few miles felt like it was never going to end, and I was so eager and happy to get back.
“I was looking around for my wife, and couldn’t see her but then when she came out I was emotional.”
DS Bailey’s efforts have raised nearly £14,000 for the ICU at Salisbury District Hospital, and he hopes to raise a further £1,000 to reach his target.
The poisoning caused a diplomatic furore, as Britain blamed Russia for the act. Two people linked with the attack have denied they were involved, while Russia continued to deny any national involvement.
However it led to the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats from embassies around the world.
Both the Skripals recovered from the poisoning, but three months later, Dawn Sturgess died in the nearby town of Amesbury, after her partner Charlie Rowley found a perfume bottle which was later found to have contained the nerve agent.
Mr Rowley met with the UK’s Russian ambassador earlier this year, but said he thought he had been fed Russia propaganda, and didn’t get any answers about the death of his girlfriend.