'A huge loss': tributes to victims of the UK's Covid second wave
T he number of lives lost with Covid-19 recorded on the death certificate in the UK has passed 100,000, an incalculable loss to the families and loved ones left behind. As the second wave of the pandemic shows no sign of abating and the daily death toll continues to climb, we pay tribute to some of the stories, lives and memories of those we have lost, many well before their time.
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Claudia Marsh, 25Claudia Marsh, who died in Liverpool on her 25th birthday.
Teacher and charity volunteer Claudia died on her 25th birthday on 20 January. She worked with the Merseyside-based charities, Talking Eating Disorders (TEDS) and the Whitechapel Centre, which she had helped her recover from an eating disorder several years before.
Her mother, Tina Marsh, from Heswell in the Wirral, told the BBC she was “very proud” and “blown away” by the tributes after her daughter’s death. Family friend Leigh Best, who founded TEDS, described the death as “heartbreaking”.
She added: “Claudia was very special, kind, caring and a dedicated teacher. She supported countless families across the UK. Claudia made her own little packs to give out to others with eating disorders with positive affirmations. She was full of positivity, kindness and hope, and had a smile that would brighten up the whole room.”
A fundraiser for both charities, set up by her mother, has raised more than £12,000.
Sam Aka di, 32Sam Akadi, 32
Sam first developed Covid-19 symptoms around 7 January, quickly receiving results showing he was positive for the virus. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to hospitalised and taken to intensive care, where he died on 22 January.
His partner Amy Skallist, 31, told MailOnline the couple’s son, Isaac, aged three, “doesn’t really understand and keeps asking where daddy is”.
She said that their family from Bromley, south-east London, had followed all the rules strictly. “This is your worst nightmare,” she said.
The couple started dating when they were both in their teenage years, staying together for 15 years. They were due to be married but pushed their wedding back after the arrival of their son.
“If you’re someone who dismisses Covid you’re not going to understand until you’re the one either sitting in the chair with someone in a hospital bed, or you’re in the bed dying,” she said.
Malcolm Erridge, 58Malcolm Erridge, 58
Malcolm died at his home in Deal, Kent. Colleagues at the Martha Trust, a charity providing care for people with physical and learning disabilities, paid tribute to the “dedicated support worker” and said he would be “sadly missed”.
The deputy chief executive at the trust, Julie Gayler, said: “It was with great sadness that we learned on Saturday evening that one of our team, Malcolm Erridge, had passed away at home.”
“Malcolm was a dedicated support worker, who worked tirelessly to give Martha residents a happy and fulfilling life. He will be sadly missed by all his friends here, staff and residents alike.”
On 11 January, Malcolm tweeted to say: “Oh well, managed to keep Covid away in 2020 but it got me in 2021.”
He said he believed he caught it from a client at work. “Stay safe everyone,” he wrote.
As well as working as a carer, Malcolm was also said to be a popular and well-known local birdwatcher. On his Twitter account, he described himself as a “birder for 45+ years” and said that “sea-watching off Deal seafront” was his main love.
Malinda DissanayakeMalinda Dissanayake, 51
The 51-year-old worked as a doctor in the accident and emergency department at North Middlesex hospital. He died due to multi-organ failure after being infected by Covid-19 and was treated in his trust’s intensive care where he worked.
His family are currently in Sri Lanka and his wife has now left the UK. A crowdfunding page has been set up by his colleague to raise money for his relatives.
It reads: “Malinda was a man that touched so many people as a doctor and simply as a person. His gentle manner and calm demeanour brought comfort to so many patients and colleagues. He was a dedicated doctor who went above and beyond the call of duty. He will be remembered for his undying selfless attitude and his eternal optimism in the face of adversity. He worked tirelessly as a frontline NHS doctor in accident & emergency departments in busy London hospitals and he was at the forefront of the fight against Covid.”
“As his colleagues we watched him dedicate so much of his time and effort to treating and comforting patients during this pandemic. This made it even more painful to see this gentle soul admitted as a patient, and treated in the intensive care unit, in the very hospital where he worked.”
The page said that Malinda would want everyone who knew him to “look forward and celebrate his life”.
Tony Brown, 73Tony Brown , 73
Tony worked as a lorry driver and it has been reported that he picked up the virus while delivering bread. He was interviewed by Sky News the day before he died on 22 January. His family agreed for his interview to be shared posthumously.
In his interview with Sky, Brown said battling Covid was “very, very frightening” and he had had some worrying nights.
“Twice I went to ring my wife, to tell her I weren’t coming [back]. It is very hard,” he admitted.
“If people would have taken a lot more care when this come out and hadn’t ignored it, we wouldn’t be such a mess we’re in. We wouldn’t have had so many deaths, so many people who are critically ill. And the NHS are fantastic, brilliant.”
He blamed people who didn’t socially distance or wear a covering for helping to spread Covid.
Speaking about his wife Linda, whom he regularly spoke to on the phone before he died, he said that he hoped to see her again soon. “Oh I miss her,” he added.
Mary Green, 92Mary Green, 92 Photograph: NCJ Media
The grandmother died with Covid-19 five days after her first vaccine dose, before the inoculation was able to give her immunity. Her son Chris, 52, said the family had a visit to see Mary at Charlton Court care home cancelled on 2 January due to lockdown.
“She was a casualty of what we’re going through at the moment with Covid,” he told the ChronicleLive.
“The care she needed in her final days wasn’t in a care home setting, it was in a hospital setting, and she couldn’t have that.”
Doctors said she couldn’t be moved to the hospital after falling ill as she was too frail to cope with invasive treatment and would find the move confusing. She died 12 days later of suspected sepsis, which they said was likely to have been triggered by the virus.
Doris Hobday, 96Doris Hobday, 96
Doris Hobday died aged 96 in January. She was one of Britain’s two oldest identical twins and had lived in Tipton in the West Midlands her whole life. Her sister Lil is also ill with the virus.
The twins went viral after a cheeky interview on Good Morning Britain, which left the hosts in hysterics after they revealed their secret to long life was sex.
Doris’s family shared a statement with GMB that read: “Both were determined to live until 100, they had so much to live for...Doris was only a few weeks away from being safe! With her vaccine letter arriving two days after her death. If you are offered the vaccine please take it, do not refuse it. Doris didn’t get this choice.”
Doris will be laid to rest beside her husband of 56 years following her funeral on 15 February.
Gerry Cottle, 75Gerry Cottle, 75 Photograph: Heathcliff O’Malley/REX/Shutterstock
Gerry Cottle died aged 75 in a hospital in Bath after contracting coronavirus.
Gerry found fame in the 1970s with the touring Gerry Cottle Circus, while he also presented the Moscow State Circus and Chinese State Circus in Britain.
He had planned to enter the circus trade ever since he saw a performance in Earl’s Court, London, at the age of eight. At 15 he ditched his O-levels and left his family in Surrey to join the circus, and learned juggling, stilt walking, acrobatics, clowning and barebacked horse-riding. He put on his first circus show of his own in the summer of 1970 in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, with just five performers including himself, staged inside a second-hand tent previously used to sell flowers.
Later in his career, Gerry helped pioneer animal-free circus performances and reportedly stopped using animals in shows during the 1990s. He retired from the circus in 2003 bought Wookey Hole, a museum and amusement attraction in Somerset.
Described by his agent as “a loving family man”, Gerry is survived by his wife Betty, four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The Archbishop of Glasgow, the Most Reverend Philip Tartaglia, 70Philip Tartaglia.
Archbishop Tartaglia died at his home in Glasgow at the age of 70. The Catholic Church has said the cause of his death is not yet clear. He tested positive for Covid-19 in December.
He was ordained a priest in 1975 and had served as leader of Scotland’s largest Catholic community since 2012. He was also a lifelong Celtic fan.
Scotland’s Catholic bishops described Archbishop Tartaglia as a “gentle, caring and warm-hearted pastor”. They said in a statement: “His loss to his family, his clergy and the people of the Archdiocese of Glasgow will be immeasurable but for the entire Church in Scotland this is a day of immense loss and sadness. His contribution to the work of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland over the past 16 years was significant and we will miss his wisdom, wit and robust Catholic spirit very much.”
Donal O’Donoghue, 64Professor Donal O’Donoghue
Leading kidney care doctor Prof Donal O’Donoghue died from Covid-19 on 3 January. Tributes were paid to the medic who helped to shape modern kidney care and was a highly respected figure in the British renal medicine community.
O’Donoghue, who was based at Salford Royal and was registrar of the Royal College of Physicians, was made an OBE in 2018 for his services to kidney patients. He had previously served as president of both the British Renal Society and the Renal Association and chair of the board of trustees at Kidney Care UK. He was appointed as the first national clinical director for kidney care at the Department of Health in 2007.
The RCP president, Prof Andrew Goddard, led the tributes: “Donal was the loveliest person and considered by many to be the ‘big daddy’ of British renal medicine. I will miss him terribly”.
David WeirDr David Weir
Dr David Weir, who was in his sixties, died from coronavirus on 3 December. He was a respiratory consultant and had worked for the NHS in north Manchester for 30 years, before moving over to east Lancashire to help with the frontline pandemic response.
The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS trust, chief executive, Kevin McGee, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “David spent his life helping people in their time of need.
“When not at work David would walk his four dogs and relaxed in his beloved garden, tending to his vegetable patch, making jam and baking bread, he truly enjoyed the good life.
“David will be greatly missed, and we send our deepest and heartfelt condolences to his wife Jane, their children and family.”
Eve Branson, 96Eve Branson
Eve Branson died at the age of 96 after contracting Covid-19.
Her son, the business magnate Richard Branson, said that rather than mourn the loss of his mother, he wanted to “celebrate her wonderful life, her tremendous spirit, the joy she brought to so many, and the love she gave us all”.
He said the “fearless” and “inventive” grandmother-of-11 and great-grandmother-of-10 had lived a colourful and adventurous life. She had taken glider lessons disguised as a boy, acted on the West End stage, enlisted in the Wrens during the second world war and toured Germany as a ballet dancer in the postwar years.
Later in life, she founded the Eve Branson Foundation, a small non-profit based in Morocco providing young people with craft skills training.
Her son also credits her with starting off his career when she gave him the money she had earned from selling a necklace. “One day in the late sixties mum saw a necklace lying on the road near Shamley Green and took it to the police station,” he said. “After three months nobody had claimed it so the police told her she could keep it. She came up to London, sold the necklace and gave me the money. Without that £100, I could never have started Virgin.”
Alan Henry, from Ballymena, Country Antrim, died on 6 January after being admitted to intensive care. He and his wife, Noeleen, who has been working as a nurse in the same ICU where her husband died, contracted Covid-19 in December despite taking extra care.
Alan was a former member of Antrim area hospital’s rapid response team before joining the dementia team. He died just days after his wife shared an emotional plea on social media for people complaining about lockdowns to take the virus seriously and not take chances. “Are these excuses really worth a life?” she had asked.
He is survived by Noeleen, three children, and four grandchildren. Noeleen described her husband as a “friendly and caring gentleman”.
Kevin Hughes, 63
Kevin Hughes died at the age of 63 on 8 January at the Wrexham Maelor hospital after a long illness with Covid-19. His death came less than three weeks after he delivered an appeal from his hospital bed for people to observe social distancing over the festive period.
Hughes had planned to do a coast-to-coast walk this year in aid of Hope House but he died only a month after the funeral of his mother, June Margaret Hughes, 89, also from the virus on 25 November at the Countess of Chester hospital. He had spoken of his sadness at missing her funeral after he tested positive for the virus, describing it as one of the “darkest days” of his life.
Born in Chester, Hughes had a varied career. He joined Cheshire constabulary and was a police diver during his service and after his retirement worked for a time as head diver at the Blue Planet Aquarium, at Cheshire Oaks. He moved into journalism with the Chester Chronicle and rose to be editor of the Flintshire Chronicle before his retirement and in recent years worked in public relations and represented Gwernymynydd as a Flintshire county councillor.
He was also a passionate football fan, first with his native Chester and latterly as a season ticket-holder at Premier League Aston Villa, a keen motorcyclist and photographer.
He is survived by his wife, Sally, with whom he celebrated 40 years of marriage three years ago, sons Chris, Steve and Andy, and seven grandchildren. His son Andy wrote on Facebook: “At 12.45 this morning Dad passed away. So proud of him, not only in the final few weeks but over an incredible 63 years walking this earth, making his mark on it in a way that only he could.”
Colin Morris, 68
Colin Morris, who had worked at Bridgnorth Cliff Railway for 20 years, died of Covid-19 in December aged 68.
He had previously been a relief driver as well as a night porter at the hotel in Alveley. Having retired from the hotel, Colin became a regular member of the cliff railway’s staff from December 2012 and colleagues said he had remained a “very fit and active 68-year-old” upon retiring last year.
The railway’s owner, Malvern Tipping, paid tribute, saying Colin was a man who “always retained a sense of humour and remained unflappable in times of crisis”.
Rachel Trott, 36Rachel Trott
The mother of three died aged 36 just three months after starting a job she had always dreamed of working with the NHS. She contracted Covid-19 while working as a healthcare assistant in Ashford, in Kent, and died at her mum’s house on New Year’s Eve.
Her partner, Finn Carmody, said in a statement: “Rachel was an amazing person, who would do anything for anyone, and always put other people first.” She is the mother of three children: Charlie, nine, Lily, six, and Willow, 20 months.
Susan Acott, chief executive of the East Kent Hospitals trust, said Trott was a valued member of the team. “Rachel’s commitment to her role was clear,” she added. “And her friendly and reassuring nature made her an instant hit with patients as well as staff.
Lyn Marshall, Trott’s ward manager, said: “Rachel had only been with us for a short time but had made an impact on many of us with her lovely caring nature and warm personality.
“She was a lovely girl who will be greatly missed.”
Jamie Slade, 35Jamie Slade
Father-of-two Jamie Slade died aged 35 from the virus, prompting his brother to warn that Covid-19 is “no hoax”. The father-of-two from Ipswich died on 3 January after testing positive over Christmas. His brother Gary described him as a “get up and go type” who “could walk into a pub on his own and come out with new friends”.
He warned on social media that Covid causes “endless heartbreak” and urged people to take it seriously. Speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, Gary said that his brother died from a Covid-related cardiac arrest two days before he was due to come out of isolation.
He said he felt “absolutely numb” after losing “more than a brother - a best friend, a confidant, a drinking buddy”. In a Facebook post, he said: “Covid is no hoax, take this serious, it’s real, and causes endless heartbreak.”
Joseph Araneta, 50Joseph Araneta
The 50-year-old night porter from Eltham in south-east London died of coronavirus on 3 January. His brother-in-law, Terry Millard, said it was Joseph’s dying wish to be with his wife Emy Angeles, 47, and son Miguel, 12.
Terry said: “Joey was the kindest, most generous, gentle-hearted, thoughtful person, who embodied the Filipino values of family - he was fiercely protective and loving of his family.”
Araneta moved from the Philippines with his sister as a teenager to live with his dad in the UK, after the death of his mum.
Emy, his wife, said her husband died suddenly and her family are now recovering from Covid. “He stayed at home for a while – for seven days – and we were hoping he would recover but we had to call an ambulance as his oxygen got low. We were surprised: it happened very quickly.”
She said her husband was a stay-at-home father who cooked for the family and did night shifts as a porter at a hotel. “He looked after our son, picking him up from school and preparing dinner for him before he went to work at night. He was furloughed until December so he was asked to go into work before Christmas Day. He did not want to work as he had an underlying illness – a heart problem – so we don’t know where he got the virus.”
A charity fundraising page has been set up by Terry Millard.
Augustine ObaroDr Augustine Obaro
Obaro worked as a family doctor in Walthamstow, London for the last 17 years and died on 1 January. He moved to the UK from Nigeria in 1999 to start GP training and went on to serve as part of the Waltham Forest GP Federation.
Obaro was active in his local community. He completed a postgraduate diploma in diabetes with the University of Leicester in 2015 and was working to become a trainer in general practice before his death.
Patients paid tribute to him on Twitter, with one saying: “Have just heard. This is horrendous. He was wonderful with my youngest when she was very ill - am heartbroken for his family. He was a great doctor and I believe him to have been a great man… R.I.P.”
Tommy Pilling, 62Tommy Pilling
Tommy Pilling, 62, from Shoeburyness in Essex, died on 1 January, two weeks after contracting the virus. He and his wife, Maryanne, one of Britain’s first married couples with Down’s syndrome, marked their 25th wedding anniversary in July and had been shielding since March.
Pilling’s sister-in-law Lindi Newman wrote, on Facebook: “I will cherish the thousands of memories I have with him.”
In the statement, on the couple’s Facebook page, Newman said: “Thank you for making Maryanne so happy and for being the best uncle my children could ever ask for.
“Thank you for being you and making the world a better place, touching the lives of millions just by being you.
“Marriage made you my brother-in-law, love made you my brother.”
Babatunde Elemosho, 62Babatunde Elemosho
Babatunde, who died with Covid-19 on 23 December, was a pillar of the Nigerian community in his area. The father-of-six hailed from Gorton, in Manchester.
The project worker was a well-known volunteer in the city’s Nigerian community. He was chief executive of the Community Inspire Foundation and was involved in the first Levenshulme Manchester Boys Brigade.
Babatunde was a former general secretary of the Nigeria Community Manchester, a not-for-profit body that represents the cultural, social, welfare and economic interests of Nigerians in the region.
Mimi Veheary, welfare officer at the Nigeria Community Manchester, said: “Mr Elemosho’s was a dear friend, husband and a father, but above all a great pillar to our community. His contribution will never be forgotten, but as we say farewell till we meet again his gift of love for our community will remain with us all for ever.”
Barclay Mason, 56Barclay Mason Photograph: Handout
Barclay Mason, 56, a senior NHS emergency department nurse died after contracting Covid-19.
Mason, who was originally from New Zealand, was treated for coronavirus at Princess Alexandra hospital NHS trust in Harlow in Essex, where he worked for more than 20 years.
Lance McCarthy, the trust’s chief executive, said: “It is with great sadness that I confirm the death of Barclay Mason, 56, a member of our emergency department team who will be remembered for his commitment to patient care, his kindness and as a valued friend and colleague to many at the Princess Alexandra hospital.”
His family and close friends, in a tribute issued through the hospital, said: “The sadness we feel is more than words can express. The most amazing man in our life, father to our children, has died. He leaves behind committed colleagues and friends who are shocked but who continue to go to work every day with compassion and care for their patients, just as Barclay did.”
They shared a Māori blessing in his honour, including the lines: “Fly free, o spirit/ Fly to the realms of the heavens/ Uplifted by the sun.”
Derek SugarDerek Sugar
Derek Sugar, the brother of the Apprentice star Alan Sugar, died on Monday after contracting the coronavirus. Lord Sugar, 73, paid tribute to his sibling on social media.
He tweeted: “Today I lost my long-suffering brother Derek, another victim of Covid, which added to his underlying health issues. He was a lifetime, passionate Spurs supporter. I never forget my sister-in-law joking with me, thanking me for buying him the club. A sad day for us all in the family,”
He posted a picture of Derek on Instagram with the caption: “RIP bro.”
The BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker was among those sending their condolences, writing: “Sorry for your loss.”
Pete Bland, 79Pete Bland. Photograph: Handout
Pete Bland passed away on 28 November. He had tested positive for Covid-19 on 7 November and was admitted to hospital on 16 November.
Bland was one of the Lake District’s best known athletes, described as a “true legend” of the local running community and a fell running icon. He started running at school, where he won many cross-country events, and had a long running career in the Lakeland fells.
He later set up the beloved Kendal running store Pete Bland Sports with his wife Anne, and he was a regular at local races selling kit from his trade van. He was honoured as a life member of the team at Ambleside Sports. A statement from Pete Bland Sports read: “Pete devoted most of his life to two things: family and running.”
Billy Procter, the president of Kendal-based running club Helm Hill, told the Westmorland Gazette: “You could not go to a fell race without the name of Pete Bland being brought up in conversation. He was not only a phenomenal runner, but then went on to help other fell runners achieve their dreams, as well as raising the profile of the sport to the exceptional levels we see today.”
Kalli Mantala-Bozos, 50Kalli Mantala-Bozos.
Mantala-Bozos, a clinical psychologist and bereavement specialist in Halifax, West Yorkshire, died on 26 November. She had four children aged 11 to 17 with her husband, Stavros.
She was born in Greece and studied psychology at the American College of Athens. After further study in Glasgow and receiving a PhD from Birmingham, she became a clinical psychologist in the Calderdale core mental health team and part of the trust’s bereavement group.
Colleagues described her as “so full of life and a beautiful person to be around”. Another said: “Kalli was a genuine, kind-hearted individual who made time to build relationships, bring a smile to others’ faces, and who put her all into her clinical work while being family-oriented and a cornerstone of her community.”
A Facebook post shared by the Greek Orthodox Community of Leeds paid tribute to her volunteer work for the church and community, describing her as “a kind-hearted and generous lady”. A charity fundraising campaign set up in her memory has raised more than £10,000 in one week.
Barbra Hassack, 55Barbra Hassack.
Healthcare worker Hassack, known to loved ones as Babs, died at her home in Strelley, Nottingham, on 29 November. She had tested positive for coronavirus six days earlier.
Hassack was an assistant practitioner and had been with Nottingham CityCare for 19 years. The team said they were heartbroken by her death. Her sister Patricia Hodgkinson, speaking on behalf of the family, told NottinghamshireLive: “Babs was a very special person, full of enthusiasm and kindness. She brought laughter and happiness to everyone who knew her, and leaves behind a family who will miss her dearly.”
Fehzan Jamil, 10Fehzan Jamil
Fehzan is believed to be one of the youngest victims of coronavirus in the UK. The 10-year-old from Bradford, who had a number of underlying health issues including epilepsy, died in hospital after contracting the virus. A funeral was held on 23 November.
His parents, Tayyaba and Mohammed Jamil, spoke to Channel 4 News about their “indescribable pain” following his death. “There were four of us, now there are only three,” said Mohammed. Tayyaba said: “I just can’t describe our loss. Everything feels empty now.” They described their son as a “really brave fighter” and a “soldier” who was cheerful in spite of his health problems.
Fehzan’s family tried to shield him during the pandemic, knowing that his health issues made him vulnerable to Covid-19. They kept him at home as much as possible, and anyone entering the home had to wear a mask. “We tried our best to keep him safe but somehow Covid got to him,” Mohammed said.
The family praised the care Fehzan received from staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary, where he had been receiving treatment for several years. “All of the staff were very good to us. They have known Fehzan for many years now and have always looked after him,” Tayyaba said. “They let us be beside him when he died. It meant a lot.”
Anthony Gershlick, 69Anthony Gershlick
Gershlick, a leading heart doctor, died on 20 November in intensive care at the hospital where he worked. Known as Tony, he was a renowned clinician and researcher. He had worked as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield hospital in Leicester for more than 30 years, pioneering research into using wire stents to improve blood flow.
Tony specialised in coronary intervention and was involved in use of the procedure from shortly after its introduction in the UK in the mid-1980s. He received the inaugural British Cardiovascular Intervention Society lifetime achievement career award in 2017, and remained active clinically until becoming unwell recently. He had been a professor of interventional cardiology at the University of Leicester since 2018.
Colleagues paid tribute to the “talented, dedicated and much-loved” professor who had “made a difference to many, many lives”. A minute’s silence was held in remembrance at the university and hospital after his death.
Owen and Bredge Ward, both 69Owen and Bredge Ward
The couple, from Strabane, County Tyrone, died 12 hours apart in hospital after contracting Covid-19. They loved the simple things in life and lived for their six children and nine grandchildren, on whom they “doted”.
Their son, Martin, held his father’s hand as he died, and his siblings were with his mother at the funeral home. Speaking to BBC NI, he asked for people to think of others and follow coronavirus guidance: “Treat everyone the same – with respect and as if they are one of your family – so you can minimise the harm to others.”
At their funeral at St Mary’s church in Melmount, where the couple married almost 50 years earlier, the parish priest, Fr Michael Doherty, spoke poignantly about how the couple “had a great love of life” and were “united in life and death”.
Owen was an avid GAA supporter and former player of both hurling and football. He was described as outgoing and highly respected. Bredge was known as a quiet and friendly woman. They were happiest when spending time with their ever-growing family, who were “the love of their lives”. Owen loved spending time with the dogs, Bredge enjoyed reading, baking and knitting, and together they loved going for walks.
Hannah Jackson, 36Hannah Jackson
Jackson died from Covid-19 on 21 November, having been taken to hospital the day before. She had contracted the virus around a week earlier. She was a staff nurse at Medway Maritime hospital in Kent, having left her family in Dominica to join the NHS in 2019. She had been sending money to her relatives to help them after the devastation of Hurricane Laura in August.
Her death came as a shock to her loved ones in her village, Castle Bruce, who remember her as a loving, kind, gentle person. Her sister Hannel told Dominica News: “She lived for nursing and she cared. She went away to make life better for herself and her family; family came first to her.”
Colleagues described Hannah as a “much-loved” and “amazing lady” and said there was “never a frown in the room while she was around”.
Asaf Oktem, 65Asaf Oktem
Oktem, a father of seven, died on 18 November, shortly after celebrating his 65th birthday. His youngest son, Alex, 26, described his father as amazing and warm. He told LancsLive: “He was just a really warm person. He was probably drawn to people that others would maybe write off and he’d try and keep them right. He was just such a warm presence and he was always smiling. He was just class.”
Oktem was a partner at a kebab shop, Ali Baba on North Road, which opened in 1985, and he was known fondly by regulars as Mr Ali Baba. Customers shared memories of him, calling his passing “a huge loss to the city of Lancaster”. One wrote: “A world with Asaf in was always a brighter, better place. RIP sweetheart.”
A statement posted on the takeaway’s Facebook page read: “Asaf Oktem, you’re now up in the stars, you will never, ever be forgotten and our lives will never be the same without you. We will try our best to continue your work and make you proud! RIP Asaf.” The takeaway was closed on the day of his death but reopened on the following night, with staff saying Asaf “wouldn’t have it any other way”.
Derek Masterton, 66Derek Masterton
Masterton, a former Daily Record journalist, died on 13 November, two weeks after testing positive for coronavirus. Having had lung cancer and sepsis in recent years, he had been shielding during the pandemic.
Derek grew up in Irvine and attended Ravenspark Academy, where he met his future wife, Nanette. He moved to Germany aged 16 where he took on a factory job to improve his German, before attending Glasgow University to study languages. He became fluent in German but quit university to become a reporter at the Irvine Times.
He moved to the Record in 1979, where he spent 30 years and rose to assistant news editor, before becoming a senior media relations officer for the Red Cross in 2009. He retired from that job two months before his death.
The former Record news editor Andy Lines, who knew Derek for 35 years, said: “Derek was a brilliant journalist and a Daily Record legend. He was a great reporter and if there was something going on in his beloved Ayrshire he knew about it before anyone else.”
Tracey Donnelly, 53Tracey Donnelly
Donnelly, a support worker for an autism charity, died in Sunderland general hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. Her death followed those of Sue Gargett, 53, and 66-year-old Margaret Blyth, who worked for the same charity. The charity said there was no evidence any of them contracted Covid-19 through their work.
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Tracey moved from Scotland to the north-east of England when she met her husband, George, whom she married in 2012. She joined the North East Autism Society five years ago and worked at several locations across the region, for the past two years mainly at three residential homes in Sunderland. She had four sons, three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.
“I loved her the first time I saw her and I always will. She was so loving and kind – just an extra-special person in every way,” said George. “The one bit of comfort I’ve been able to draw is the number of private messages I’ve had from her colleagues, along with a letter from the parent of one of the service users. That shows what she meant to everyone.”
Jim Pass, 102Jim Pass recalling his wartime service at his home in Sheffield. One of Yorkshire’s last Dunkirk and D-day veterans, he died with Covid at the age of 102. Photograph: Yorkshire Post/SWNS
Pass, one of Yorkshire’s last Dunkirk and D-day veterans, died on 4 November shortly after being diagnosed with Covid-19. He had been moved into a care home in July following a fall at home. His stepdaughter Kerensa Welsby said he was unable to have visitors including his wife, Rita, inside the care home due to the pandemic. “It has been quite a traumatic period. But there are blessings,” she told the Yorkshire Post. ‘“He was 102 and actually died quite peacefully. He didn’t suffer, which he could have done with Covid, and he lived an amazing life.”
Pass was a motorbike dispatch rider in the Royal Army Service Corps early in the second world war. He narrowly escaped death at Dunkirk, where after waiting for seven days he boarded a paddle steamer that was hit by a bomb. Jim was among those saved by a naval destroyer. On D-day he played a key role, driving a DUKW amphibious vehicle bringing ammunition onshore to Sword beach. After D-day, Jim landed a glider in Holland and fought across to Germany where he reached newly liberated Belsen.
For more than 50 years after the war, Jim was a keen member of the Camping and Caravanning Club. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur in 2016 for his service in liberating France.
Walter Parnham, 79Walter Ernest Parnham
Parnham was taken to Pilgrim hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire, after a heart attack in October and contracted Covid-19 while being treated. He died on 21 November.
Since the mid-1980s Parnham, known locally as Wally or Mick, had brought Christmas cheer to thousands of children in his home town of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, by dressing up as Santa Claus and handing out gifts during appearances at schools and events. A keen drummer, he also worked as an engineer and lorry driver and was part of the Wainfleet Theatre Club, regularly helping out with the scenery.
His son, Carl, 55, told LincsLive: “He was full of kindness, he would do anything for anybody and never make a fuss or ask for anything in return. I guess that generosity is what made him a good Santa. I’m heartbroken, and it’s even more crushing that it has happened at this time of year. It was his favourite time and I’m sure many will have fond memories of him bringing them the magic of Christmas.”
Oskar Hartwig, 59Oskar Hartwig
Hartwig died on 19 November after he was hospitalised and then moved to intensive care after contracting Covid-19. About four weeks prior to his death, he and his wife, Jan, caught the virus. While Jan had a mild form of Covid-19, Oskar had underlying health conditions and had to be put on a ventilator.
He worked for Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council for close to 30 years, and while on duty he was known as “Gentle Giant” or “Big Man”. His niece Jackie told CoventryLive he was “Uncle Osk” to many. “He wasn’t just my uncle, he was everyone’s uncle, he was everyone’s friend, an amazing husband to Jan and just as an amazing dad to Kelly, Andy and Sarah and an absolute fabulous grandad. Everyone who got to be in his presence was just instantly drawn in with that beaming smile and that Scotch voice of his and just instantly fell in love with him.”
Andrew Sumner, 78Andrew Sumner
Sumner died at Lancaster Royal Infirmary on 12 November after testing positive for Covid-19. Born in Preston, he studied at Preston grammar school and Manchester University before becoming a teacher, and head of modern languages at Penwortham girls’ school, until his retirement. Apart from his family, his greatest love was boxing and he became an amateur coach, mentoring young people in gyms in Preston, Blackpool and Bolton.
Additional reporting Harry Taylor