They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends and colleagues. And they are the people in Wales who died after testing positive for Covid-19 in the last 365 days. There are nearly 5,500 of them.

On March 16, 2020, exactly one year ago, Wales reported its first coronavirus victim. The 68-year-old passed away at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, in what was described at the time as the “first tragedy”.

While the country was bracing itself for what was to come, few people imagined the sheer scale of the grief that would follow. Since then, hundreds of families have been left to mourn, without a cwtch or a hand on their shoulder from relatives or the community around them.

Today, we remember and pay our respects to all those no longer with us.

On 11 April, 2020, news broke of the death of 65-year-old nurse Gareth Roberts, three weeks after the start of the first national lockdown.

A nurse for more than 45 years, Gareth had brushed off his wife Linda’s request for him to take “time out” and stay at home, instead carrying on the fight on the front line of the job he loved working.

His family claimed he was armed with just gloves, an apron and a mask at the start of the pandemic, before he fell ill, and was admitted to hospital with Covid alongside his mother. He didn’t make it back out. An inquest will be held later this year to answer questions about what happened during that time.

On the wet April day on which his funeral took place, residents in Aberdare lined the streets to say their final goodbyes.

Gareth Robets said he wanted to continue working despite the pandemic
(Image: Linda Roberts)

Linda wants her husband to be remembered for the hero he was, both at home and at work. Linda, 73, said: “I had to drive myself to the crematorium in my little old car because we couldn’t have a family car, a hearse. There were only six of us. I had so many flowers here, I was like a florist. Every day there were four, five, six bunches of flowers coming in from everywhere. I’ve got about 500 cards here, one came from Australia, Scotland, they came from England, all over.

“It’s so much more difficult with lockdown as well, I’ve got so much time on my hands, it’s just not nice. I miss him terrible. Life’s not the same.”

Residents lined the streets to say goodbye to Gareth on the day of his funeral
(Image: WalesOnline/ Rob Browne)

In any other circumstances, Gareth’s funeral would have been attended by hundreds
(Image: WalesOnline/ Rob Browne)

Looking back, mother-of-two Linda is bursting with pride when she speaks about Gareth. Both nurses, the pair first met on the bus on the way to work. While it was far from love at first sight, the two became friends until one day Gareth bought Linda a ring and proposed, receiving a firm no straight away.

It was only after Gareth took Linda’s son, Dean, out for the day months later that romance truly started to bloom. The pair have remained side by side ever since and were married for 46 years, caring for sons, Dean and Ceri, and grandson Zac.

A popular and loved colleague at work known for calling everyone ‘cariad’, Linda said every long shift and overnight stay at work was for his family. Even after retiring aged 60, Gareth couldn’t keep still and made the decision to return to work once more in the years before his death.

A piece of art commissioned by Gareth’s colleagues to remember him, and his catchphrase, ‘cariad’
(Image: Linda Roberts)

Linda said: “He was a wonderful family man, very child orientated. He loved us all. He used to work long hours for us to go on holidays, nice holidays, the children never went without anything. I’d said to Gareth, ‘come on, it’s time out now’. I asked him about a fortnight before he died, I said ‘take a couple of weeks off now, get out of there for a while’ but no, he didn’t. He didn’t stop until the day he died.

“He said ‘I’m alright, I can’t let them down. I’m with the girls, we’re working together’. He loved his work, he was work-orientated. He was a lovely man, a really nice, generous man.”

Across Wales, health boards in each part of the country have all lost people like Gareth and colleagues and friends have mourned and celebrated the lives of those who were the best at what they did, and those who were there for the most ill and vulnerable in their time of need.

On April 5 one of Wales’ leading surgeons died after contracting Covid-19. A father of two, cardiac surgeon Jitendra Rathod was described as an “incredibly dedicated surgeon” who cared deeply for his patients and was highly regarded in the medical profession in Wales.

Donna Campbell, a mother-of-two and nurse at Velindre Hospital, died after contracting coronavirus

Only a week later tributes were paid to healthcare worker Donna Campbell, who worked at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. Known as someone who could “light up a room with her infectious laugh and bubbly personality”, the Windrush community in Wales celebrated the mother-of-two for her love for her family, her work in the community and cooking Jamaican food, in a poignant statement.

On April 27, 40-year-old Newport healthcare worker Julius Sana died after being admitted to hospital with coronavirus and ventilated on his daughter’s fifth birthday. Both shy and humble, Julius’ family said he was known for always smiling, having come to Wales from the Philippines around 15 years ago with his sister.

You can read more about the lives of some of those who died with coronavirus over last year here.

Between March 1 and May 31, 2020, 2,257 deaths were recorded in Wales involving Covid-19, according to the Office of National Statistics.

By the end of April, the number of deaths in Wales was 25% higher than the five year average, one Welsh Government report found.

In both the first and second wave there was one sector that found itself particularly vunlerable – those caring for and living in care homes across Wales. The policy and decisions made around care homes in the first vital months of the pandemic has raised some important questions – you can read more about that here.

From March 1, 2020, to January 21, 2021, Care Inspectorate Wales was notified of 7,445 deaths across adult care homes, a figure 37% higher than the deaths reported for the same time period the previous year. Of those, 1,709 care home resident deaths were reported with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, equating to 23% of all reported deaths.

Ceinwen Williams with her husband Peter on their golden anniversary wedding 10 years ago
(Image: Nicola Davies)

One of those who died in a care home was mother-of-two Ceinwen Williams. More than just a number, the 80-year-old former school cook was a loving mother and wife who dedicated her life to looking after everyone else along with husband Peter.

Married for nearly 60 years, the pair had been supporting each other before the pandemic, Ceinwen having been diagnosed with dementia and Peter battling with myeloma and prostate cancer. When Peter’s condition worsened, Ceinwen moved to a care home for temporary respite where she fell ill in the following months. After testing positive for covid she died in hospital 10 days later.

At the time their daughter Nicola Davies was left with an unthinkable situation, having to Facetime her father, who was also in hospital, to tell him of his Ceinwen’s passing on May 13. She is sure her dad died with a broken heart only a few months later.

Nicola said: “They were lovely people. Of course, I’m biased, they’re my parents, but they were active people in the community with the chapel. In the chapel dad was always the main caretaker and mum was always the one in charge of the kitchen side. He did well over 40 years as the treasurer of the chapel.

“When my dad was working and it was a special birthday or something, I remember someone doing a speech and they said there were three things that were important to dad: the home, the chapel and the co-op. He was the manager of the Clynderwyn Farmers Co-op.”

Find out about coronavirus cases in your area:

When Nicola thinks of her parents, what comes to mind is not the tragedy of the last few months but the difference they made to their community in the hamlet of Rhoshill, near Carmarthen. As well as active supporters of the chapel, they were constantly fundraising for charities including Muscular Dystrophy UK, volunteering at their charity shop in Aberystwyth once a week 42 miles away.

As well as caring for the community, Ceinwen and Peter also cared for their daughter Mandy, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy.

In a cruel twist of fate it was only after Mandy’s death five years ago that Ceinwen and Peter found time for themselves to go away to favourite places like Llandudno and Aberystwyth – anywhere near the sea.

While Nicola believes her mum contracting coronavirus was down to “bad luck” rather than any form of mismanagement, she can’t help but believe that the virus has taken away both her parents, and “robbed them both of their last precious moments together”.

Nicola, 55, said: “Mother’s Day 2020 we sent a big arrangement of flowers to mum. One of the carers sent us a photo of her with these flowers in her lap, all smiles, so pleased but she couldn’t understand where we were really because we had always been there as such a close family. We weren’t allowed to visit.

“With mum’s funeral we were only allowed to be seven people. It was a lovely funeral but it wasn’t the funeral we should have had. There would have been hundreds there. In October, with dad, it was a little bit more relaxed, people were standing out on the road and outside the chapel as long as they kept their distance but I know for a fact the chapel would have been heaving if we had normal circumstances.”

Paramedic Gerallt Davies with sons Jonny and Daniel
(Image: Jonny Davies)

In Swansea, the family of Gerallt Davies, the first paramedic to die with coronavirus in Wales, are still coming to terms with their loss.

Following the 51-year-old’s death on April 20, Jonny and his older brother Daniel were overwhelmed by hundreds of messages of condolence and tributes sharing the impact that their dad had in his field. As well as a respected paramedic, Gerallt was also a valued member of St John Ambulance and a familiar face at big events around the city from his work in the safety advisory group for Liberty Stadium.

In 2019, he was awarded an MBE for services to first aid provision in Wales. For Jonny and Daniel, however, Gerallt was first and foremost a great dad.

“He was very much a normal dad to us, and as a family as well, but we weren’t aware of the extent of what he was doing until we saw the tributes that were coming in,” Jonny, 27, said.

“He just never stayed still. We would always joke about whenever there was something he would have a plan regardless, a plan of doing something and making sure we could do everything. It’s kind of strange really how someone so ordinary was doing extraordinary things. It’s kind of cliche but they say not all heroes wear capes. He certainly didn’t wear one either and he was definitely a hero looking back at it and what he was doing and just going about as if it was normal.”

Gerallt has been described by colleagues as a “hero” after he worked and volunteered as a paramedic for nearly 40 years

To those that knew him, Gerallt was many things. A paramedic by day, he was also an avid motorsports fan alongside his sons and a constant source of support to his parents Avril and Eifion, always kitting them out with the latest gadgets.

To colleagues he was a joker as well as a supportive hand, teasing the new recruits while helping them keep calm under enormous pressure.

You can now get all of the need-to-know news sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our free WalesOnline newsletter.

It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.

Even those in the city centre will know of Gerallt, even if they don’t know him personally, thanks to initiatives of his like an area to care for people in trouble on a night out in Wind Street.

Despite all his achievements, however, Gerallt was desperately humble, not wishing to make a fuss even when he was ill at home with coronavirus, in need of medical care.

Jonny said: “If you’d try talking to him about [his MBE], he’d talk about something else. He didn’t want to accept that it was for his hard work, he just thought it was normal. I think he just enjoyed helping people. You always think your dad is the best at everything he does but it wasn’t until you started seeing the stories of how good he was at his job, I was kind of taken back.

“The Welsh Ambulance have got a green ribbon on one of the new RRV’s, he’d normally be in a response vehicle. It’s got his paramedic number on it which is 6332 on the front with a ribbon. I’ve seen it around a couple of times, it’s quite a lovely thing when you see it going around, that he’s still doing his normal thing.”

A rainbow tribute to Gerallt on the side of the South Star pub in Llanelli
(Image: Llanelli Star / South Wales Evening Post)

Paramedics at St John Ambulance, Newtown, pay their respects to Gerallt
(Image: Dragon UAV)

By the time the second wave hit Wales in the second half of 2020, Wales was warned the worst was still yet to come. On December 30, the rate of people dying with coronavirus overtook that at the height of the first wave in April, followed two days later by the country’s deadliest 24-hour period which saw 55 deaths recorded in 24 hours.

As the loss in close-knit communities became ever clearer, so did the devastation that the virus has caused even within single families.

In the Rhondda, residents of Ynyshir mourned the loss of Iris Davies, “the last of a dying breed of mother and Gran” and a true “diamond” after her death in the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

Paying tribute to her, Iris’s family said there wasn’t a boy in the whole of her village who she had not fed or given a bed or settee to sleep on.

More than that, however, she was a mother and grandmother who fiercely loved her children and grandchildren, selflessly giving everything she could. Even from her hospital bed, Iris made sure her husband of 38-years, Joe Davies, was well fed, arranging for a supermarket food delivery for him and having bought and wrapped all of the childrens’ Christmas presents in advance.

On November 19, 2020, only a few miles away, a triple funeral was held to say goodbye to a mother and her two sons who died from coronavirus within five days of each other.

The evening before the funeral service of Gladys, Dean and Darren Lewis at St Peter’s Church in Pentre
(Image: PA)

A holiday photo of the Lewis family from Pentre
(Image: PA)

Grandmother Gladys Lewis, 74, from Pentre, died at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital on October 29. Her son Dean Lewis, 44, was found unresponsive at his home in nearby Treorchy the following day and died a short time later, while his younger brother Darren, 42, passed away on November 2 following treatment in intensive care.

In an emotional interview while still processing their grief, the Lewis family spoke out to warn others to take the virus seriously and to plead with people to say at home. It’s a message which has been shared by countless others who have lost family over the course of the pandemic.

In Cardiff, for the family of 40-year-old Karen Hobbs it’s hard to believe it’s been two months now since her death on January 19.

A healthy mother-of-five who adored her children, it’s also difficult for her sister Rachel to think that Karen’s death came at such a pivotal turning point in the pandemic at the start of the vaccine roll-out.

Rachel, 41, said she often thought about the other patients in the ward that her sister was in when she visited for the last time, and wondered how they were doing now.

Mum-of-five Karen Hobbs, 40, died on January 19 with Covid-19
(Image: Rachel Hobbs)

Describing the day of Karen’s funeral, her big sister said: “It was all about her, that’s what we did with my mum and dad as well, we told the funny stories, had the music that she enjoyed, it was really nice. We played two Foo Fighter songs and then The Prodigy on the way out because that’s what she liked. Some people were giggling a bit but that was her, that’s what she loved.

“We invited the 30 that we could. And then we did say then when we can do we’re going to have a wake then so everybody can go.”

In the wake of Karen’s death the community of Pentwyn and beyond saw a raw outpouring of love. In a matter of weeks more than £30,000 was raised by those wanting to give their support to her children Dylan, 14, Niamh, 11, Amelia, nine, Sam, eight and Olivia, four.

According to Rachel, that money will be used to fulfil Karen’s dream of redecorating her house to create a comforting space for her children to live in as well as to create some stability for their future.

In the weeks since her death Rachel has also learnt just how many people her sister supported through online groups, helping expecting mums as well as those dealing with loss.

Karen’s family are now helping to look after her young family
(Image: Rachel Hobbs)

Karen with sister Rachel and brother Chris
(Image: Rachel Hobbs)

Rachel said: “I’m just trying to keep it as happy with the kids as possible so every time I mention her I sort of say all the funny things. When I’m around there I’ll talk about her and everything and still mention the funny stories just so we can keep it a bit normal and as nice as it can be for them”

She added: “Nobody knows but if she had been vaccinated, if she’d been able to, would these things have happened really? It’s one of those things.”

On March, 16, 2021, countless people will be missing loved ones no longer with us. In the coming days and weeks ahead of us there will also be more who will lose their lives to the virus which has changed the shape of life as we know it.

What is certain, however, is that the victims to the pandemic will be celebrated and honoured both now and when people can come together properly for the first time again.

These are just some of the people who have died with coronavirus over the last year. Read on after the images to find out more about some of them:

Healthcare workers, friends, family and loved ones have died in Wales with coronavirus over the last 12 months

Eileen Andrews, 66, was from Abercynon and did everything with her twin sister.

Eleanor Andrews, 66, was Eileen’s sister and came from a close-knit family

Robert Ashton, 53, was a senior lab technician at Cardiff University’s chemistry department

Sharon Bamford, 63, was an auxiliary nurse at Singleton Hospital

Malcolm Bamford, 73, was loving a husband to Sharon

Mark Bowen, 52, was a “gentle giant” father and huge Liverpool FC fan

Douglas George Bressington, 81, from the Rhondda, was a popular figure at his local church.

Julianne Cadby, 49, was a business manager for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board’s specialist child and adolescent mental health services.

Donna Campbell, 54, was an NHS Healthcare worker at Velindre Cancer Centre

Jenelyn Carter, 42, worked on the admissions ward at Morriston Hospital

Steven Courtney-Williams, 56, was a loving husband to David

Linette Cruz, 51, was a senior head nurse at the Brynteg dental practice

Dominga Davies, 62, was a nurse at University Hospital Llandough who had worked at the health board for around 16 years

Gerallt Davies, 51, was a paramedic and member of St John Cymru Wales

Iris Davies, 69, from Ynyshir was a fiercely loving grandmother

Thomas Davies, 27, was a young dad from Anglesey

Lynne Drummond, 73, was a former nurse for more than 30 years at Morriston Hospital

Becca Evans, 28, was a leader with Girlguiding and she also helped teach swimming and dance

Mike Evans, 64, was a talented ex-local rugby player for St Peter’s RFC and a successful businessman

Gail Evall, 53, died days after arranging her husband funeral from her hospital bed

John Evill, 62, was one of Aberdare’s best known pub landlords

Beverly Ford, 55, was a care worker for the learning disability service

Tim Galley, 47, from Wrexham, worked for M&S Bank

Stuart Greaves, 57, from Rassau, was a loyal rugby and Chelsea fan.

Slyvia Harthen, 73, dedicated her time to working for countless Swansea charities

Karen Hobbs, 40, was a former air stewardess and dedicated mother to her five children

Bryn Howells, 86, had recently celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with wife Pat

Pat Howells, 80, was a former evacuee who fell in love with her new home in Gelli

Kevin Hughes, 63, was a well-known county councillor as well as a former police officer, underwater diver and newspaper editor

Helen Hurley, 54, was a former chef at a special needs school who doted on her grandchildren

Mozadul Hussain, 63, was a former Newport councillor and more recently worked for Dragon Taxis

Michael Jay, 81, was a former Catnic employee and a popular grandfather

David Jones, 63, was a popular local bus driver who was also known as “Dave the ice cream man”

Huw Gething Jones, 34, died after complications linked to Covid-19. He was a talented musician, entreprepreneur and star player for Llangefni RFC

Lauren Jones, 25, worked as an administrator at the GP surgery in Tonypandy

Phil Knighton, 71, was a former railway technician from Llanbradach known for his spectacular Christmas lights

Gladys Lewis, 74, was a grandmother who would “fight the world and win” for her children and grandchildren.

Dean Lewis, 44, was a loving husband to Claire and had a close relationship with their sons Danny, Declan and Darian

Darren Lewis, 42, was a keen football fan who loved to be centre of attention

Undeg Lewis, 59, was a a shop worker and clerk of the community council in the Carmarthenshire village of Efailwen

Allan Macalalad, 44, worked as an ophthalmology theatre assistant at the University Hospital of Wales

Rizal Manalo, 51, was a nurse at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Denbighshire

John Moore, 96, was an RAF veteran who flew 27 of 30 allotted missions across Europe during World War Two

Brian Mfula was a lecturer in mental health nursing at Swansea University who “taught from the heart”

Helen Mills, 56, was a healthcare support worker in the minor injury unit at Neath Port Talbot Hospital

Terry Murphy, 57, was a mother to everyone” in her community in Barry

Keith Peacock, 76, was the “legendary” landlord of the Thorn Hotel in Abercynon

Allan Pearce, 72, was a former electrician and husband of 38 years to wife Pat

Jitendra Rathod, 62, was One of Wales’ leading surgeons and a specialist in cardiac surgery

Gareth Roberts, 65, was a nurse who worked across the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area

Julius Sana, 40, was a popular health care support worker at St Peter’s Hospital in Newport

Mark Simons, 59, was a health care assistant and Unite representative at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.

Liz Spooner, 62, was a registered nurse at Singleton Hospital for 41 years

Andy Treble, 47, was a theatre assistant at the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

Allan Tyler, 75, was a former computing lecturer at Afan College and teacher at Dylan Thomas Community School

Paul Wilkins, 59, was a delivery driver and “larger than life character”.

Evan Williams, 79, was a “wonderful husband” to former Conway MP Betty Williams as well as a loving father

Ceinwen Williams, 80, was the former head cook of her local school and a dedicated member of her local chapel

Josie Williams, 94, was the head of her family who loved to go out on adventures

Andrew Woolhouse, 55, was a hospital porter at Llandough Hospital

Kevin Woolley, 42 was a loving father and Stagecoach bus driver

Rachael Yates, 33, was a prison officer at Usk Prison in Monmouthshire

If you would like to pay tribute to a loved on you can email anna.lewis@walesonline.co.uk


Source link