Radio 2

Flanders now has its own ‘Captain Tom’

A 103-year-old retired family doctor from Rotselaar (Flemish Brabant) is walking a marathon in his garden.  GP Alfons Leempoels intends to walk nearly a kilometre and a half a day in a bid to raise cash for research into a vaccine into coronavirus.  After a month he will have completed 42.2 km or a marathon.

Dr Leempoels must be one of the oldest doctors in the country.  He draws his inspiration from Britain’s Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions walking in his garden with his frame.

Dr Leempoels’s grandson, a gymnastics teacher, has set out a 145 metre route in his grandfather’s garden.  The elderly, but quite fit doctor intends to complete it ten times a day. Dr Leempoels’s comes from farming stock.  “There were nine kids at home” he told VRT.  King Albert I was even godparent to one of his brothers after seven boys in a row were born in his family, a Belgian tradition.

Dr Leempoels was working as a doctor at the time of the Asian flu in 1957.  Between 20,000 and 70,000 people died in Belgium: “We didn’t have a lockdown.  Bars and restaurants stayed open.  I made quite a few house visits, but fortunately didn’t catch the disease.”

The good doctor has been staying at home this time round.  He hasn’t even ventured out on the street the whole time.  Fortunately he possesses a large garden where he now intends to raise cash for a Leuven University professor researching plasma in the fight against coronavirus.  

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