Popular DPD driver throws 'thank you' party for kind hearted Ribble Valley residents who raised almost £50,000 for him when he was struck down with sepsis

Blackpool Tower ballroom was the magnificent setting for a 'thank you' party hosted by a popular and well known delivery driver, who almost died when he was struck down with sepsis last year.

Dave Cram wanted to show his appreciation for the people of the Ribble Valley and Blackpool who rallied to raise almost £50,000 to help him and his family.

Friends, relatives, colleagues and nursing staff who took care of him, were all invited to the bash at the Tower which was a double 40th and 41st birthday celebration for Dave and included live music courtesy of The Deadbeats.

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In an emotional speech, for which he received a standing ovation, Dave thanked everyone for their help during his illness.

Dave with his wife Keeley and their little girl Robyn

He said: "Without you all I wouldn't be here today. Tonight is about celebrating and everyone having a good time."

Dave, who is affectionately known as 'DPD Dave' had to have his leg amputated after falling seriously ill in January last year. And while he was fighting for his life in hospital, hundreds of people in the Ribble Valley were among those in Lancashire doing their bit to help with donations and fund raising events.

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Dave is a big part of the community, particularly the Whalley, Hurst Green, Stonyhurst, Barrow, Sabden and Billington areas, with his ready smile and willlingness to go out of his way to deliver a parcel for someone, taking it to their workplace if they weren't at home.

And when news of his illness started to spread residents came forward with offers of help, arranging collections and organising events, including a family day, Doing It For Dave, organised jointly by Bev Knight of Keystreet in Clitheroe and local band, Stereo Retrovibe and Stonyhurst resident Katherine Turner who kicked off the fund raising.

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Dave with Ribble Valley fundraisers Katherine Turner and Zander Sumner

Even chart topping star Olly Murs backed the fund raising campaign, making a generous donation himself and tweeting an appeal for people to help Dave. Around £10,000 was raised in hours and the eventual fund total was a staggering £43,813.

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Katherine said: "It was such a good night, stunning venue and the band were amazing.

"It was great to see Dave looking so well after everything he's been through and catch up with his family and friends, as well as his customers who had also come over from the Ribble Valley."

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Dave, who lives in Blackpool with his wife Keeley and their daughter Robyn (six), said: "Knowing that so many people were behind me, supporting me and wishing me well, has been such a comfort and strength, even on the worst days when I have felt so down."

Courageous Dave takes to the stage to give his thank you speech
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The fit and strong dad fell ill with what he believed was a groin strain after a weekend game of football. He later developed flu-like symptoms and the pain in his leg, which had begun to swell, was excruciating. He was rushed to hospital where doctors then gave him the devastating news that he was suffering from a "necrotising fasciitis infection" in his left thigh, causing sepsis and he was placed into an induced coma.

He was rushed into surgery, but medics found that his kidneys were failing and his liver was showing signs of damage, before his heart rate dropped to a dangerously low level.

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On Dave’s 40th birthday, January 16th, 2020, his family had to make the decision to amputate his leg - but doctors warned he may not survive the operation. Dave would survive - but would go into cardiac arrest multiple times.

After his surgery, Dave began to show signs of recovery but his weight plummeted from 12 stone to just five and he was unable to breathe unaided. Then as he was being moved in bed his bowel split and he was rushed to hospital in Preston to receive emergency micro-surgery. He had multiple blood transfusions, and then developed pneumonia.

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Dave with two of the nurses who looked after him in Blackpool Victoria Hospital

He battled them all to pull through but admits adjusting to life as an amputee has been challenging and traumatic at times.

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Dave said: "There have been so many moments of upset, depression and sheer frustration of not being able to do even the smallest tasks anymore.

"But my family and friends have been such a terrific support and Keeley always says to me 'At least you are here and you are alive.' "

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Dave also praised his employers DPD for its support and promise that, despite him not being able to go back to his role as a delivery driver, there will be a job for him when he is ready to return to work.

Dave made the momentous decision to speak publicly for the first time about his ordeal to raise awareness of sepsis. And the moving story he shared with the UK Sepsis Trust's campaign, to raise awareness of this devastating illness, has been read by almost 70,000 people and received hundreds of shares across social media.

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Dave said: "For me it is so important to make people aware of sepsis and to recognise the symptoms and not be afraid to ask doctors to test for it if you think that's what it could be."

Friends help Dave celebrate at his party