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Happier days .. Neil, Leon and Claire

by TOM DOWLING, editor

NOT a day goes by without some sad and heartbreaking news about how Covid-19 is taking its toll on individuals and families.

Tragically, my nephew’s long-time partner has just become one of the latest victims …

Both in their early forties with a 12-year-old son, Neil and Claire were so much looking forward to a summer of fun and a lifetime together.

But then, back in March, things went horribly wrong.

All three went down with the virus. Self-isolating, Neil and son, Leon, slowly managed to win the fight.

Sadly, Claire deteriorated. Admitted to the Royal, she surprised everyone by eventually becoming free of the disease. But the damage to her organs was just too much.

At least Neil was able to be with Claire for the final few hours, but the heartache was unbearable and for a few minutes he found himself in a crumpled heap, sobbing his heart out at the hospital entrance.

He felt completely useless, alone and scared. Then an elderly man suddenly appeared at his side passing him a bottle of Coke. “Here you are, son. This’ll help.” Seconds later, another man instinctively crouched down and hugged him, followed by a woman asking “D’ya wanna ciggie, love?

They were all doing what comes natural to most of us – reaching out to help.

“I just wish I could thank them,” Neil told me. “They can’t begin to know how much their actions have helped me. It was just so lovely…”