A man who spent five days in intensive care with coronavirus has compared NHS staff to "the Spitfire pilots of 1940".
Hylton Murray-Philipson, 61, hailed medics for helping him recover after Covid-19 left him "reduced to the state of a baby".
He spent 12 days in total at Leicester Royal Infirmary, after being admitted a day after his father died from a non virus-related illness.
As he left hospital, staff gave Mr Murray-Philipson a guard of honour.
The sustainable farmer, from Market Harborough, Leicestershire, told BBC Breakfast he had been ill at home with a consistent temperature of 40C (104F), but did not have a particularly bad cough and therefore was not sure if he had Covid-19.
But on the tenth day of feeling unwell, he was admitted to hospital and a couple of days later was moved to intensive care before being taken to a ward to recover.
Mr Murray-Philipson, who lost 15% of his body weight, said he now appreciates "every little thing", adding "for days I was fantasising about a piece of toast and marmalade. That's enough for me".
The father-of-two, who had to celebrate his birthday in hospital, said: "When you are as ill as I was, you are reduced to the state of being a baby, completely dependent on others for every little thing.
"My birthday was an exciting day because by then I was able to sit on a chair beside the bed. That in itself was a giant step forward."
He praised NHS staff, saying: "These really are the heroes of the moment. These are the Spitfire pilots of 1940.
"We know how special the NHS is [but] the difference for me is I now know the individuals by name and I want to say thank you to all of those people from the bottom of my heart."
He returned home on Friday and said he was now "taking it day-by-day".
"I am trying to put on a bit of weight," Mr Murray-Philipson said.
"I am walking a little bit further every day. I can now walk 300 yards. I am grateful. I don't need steak frites or whatever. It's just the simple things."