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Former Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedic 'humbled'

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Fri 15 Jan 2016

Former Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedic 'humbled'

Kevin Hitchens was diagnosed with both cancer of the right lung and pulmonary fibrosis only a short time ago.

He is a regular at the Costa coffee shop in Fore Street, Trowbridge, and so a friend started taking photos of himself enjoying a Costa to let his pal know that everyone was thinking of him and his battle with cancer.

After posting them on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #CostaForKev, hundreds of people including family, friends and former colleagues started to take selfies with their Costa beverage, which eventually led to the creation of a page dedicated to the photos.

“My mate Chris Harvey set up the giving page, he is a firefighter in Malmesbury. He started taking pictures of him having a Costa because he knows I am always here,” the 55-year-old from Warminster said.

“We wanted to see if we could get 500 people taking photos while having a Costa and what happened was just crazy. I didn’t expect it to be like this. I’m very shocked by it all but it is really fantastic. Seeing all the photos keeps my spirits up.”

Mr Hitchens worked as a paramedic with WAA for over 10 years and following the attention his Facebook page has received, he decided to set up a Virgin Giving page to raise money for the Lung Foundation and raise awareness of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – a condition that causes scarring to lungs.

“No one knows much about pulmonary fibrosis and even doctors don’t know what causes it but children can get it and there isn’t a cure unfortunately,” he added.

“I don’t expect anything from anyone but if I can make people more aware of pulmonary fibrosis then I’ve done well. As a paramedic, you don’t hear of it so if makes people even a little more aware or even google the condition then someone else will know about it.”

He first became aware of his condition after a routine doctor’s appointment. He said: “I was short of breath when I was walking and I thought something was up. Then when it got worse, I thought I had another chest infection.

In the end I went to the doctors and she said she thought I have fibrosis in my lung. They said I had to go to Bath as an emergency and then they also picked up on the cancer in my right lung.

“My daughters have been brilliant. They have been through it all with them from when they told me about the cancer and that it is terminal. My little girl is even doing a sponsored plane jump to raise money.”

So far, nearly £500 has been raised. Abi Ledbury, who works at Costa in Fore Street, said: “Kev is one of our favourite regulars and he genuinely makes us all smile every day. We were really gutted to find out about his condition but we are trying to support him the best way we can and so we decided we would donate all our tips to his charities.”

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