AN NHS doctor who died after returning to work from retirement to help fight against COVID-19, was schooled in Oswestry.

Dr Alfa Saadu, aged 68, had been working at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, before contracting the virus.

He died last week after being treated for the virus at Whittington Hospital in North London.

Dr Saadu was formerly a pupil at Bellan House School where he was a boarder in the early 1960s, and went on to work for almost 40 years in the NHS, before retiring in 2017, and returning again earlier this year.

He attended the school in Oswestry while his father was working at the Nigerian Embassy in London.

After many years of studying to become a doctor and working, he paid a visit to Bellan House in the 1980s, when he was a locum doctor at a practice in Knockin.

Graham Jarman was a classmate of Dr Saadu’s at the Oswestry-based school, and remembers him to be a very caring and considerate person from a young age.

He said: “He was incredibly clever. He was always in the front row by the teacher and taking everything in.

“After spending the first few years of his life in Nigeria, he had more to learn when he came over here. I remember he spoke beautiful English.

“We became close friends after sitting together in maths class for years. I remember he was always so pleased to be over here in England and to be getting educated.

“We sat our 11+ together when we were in school after being at Bellan House together, but because he needed a boarding school beyond the age of 11, he went to Newport Grammar School.

“We met up a few years later at an athletics meeting of the schools. We promised to write and keep in touch, but as teenage lads that didn’t continue for so long.

“He would have been a great doctor, very caring and considerate – I have never heard him say a bad word about anybody or anything.

“He was a really nice guy and an incredible athlete – he was some fast bowler. He asked me to help him practice once while he bowled at me – if he bowled 20 balls at me, 15 hit the wickets and the remaining five hit my legs.

“He was a brilliant football player as well.”

A former matron at Bellan House, Gwef Pearson, also remembers Alfa being a keen sportsman.

She said: “I remember Alfa really enjoying sports and loving football. He was always a happy boy and from the moment he arrived would say all he wanted to be was a doctor.

“Many of the boarders didn’t go home in the holidays and I would look after Alfa and others, taking them out for picnics and trips away.”

Lance McCarthy, chief executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, where Dr Saadu worked before his retirement, said: "It is with sadness that we learn of the passing of Dr Saadu.

"Alfa was well known at the trust for his passion for ensuring our patients received high-quality care.

"He was a committed member of the team and is remembered fondly by many."

Dr Saadu leaves behind his wife and two children.