Great Britain

CORONAVIRUS: Widow of 62-year-old tells of heartache

A WIDOW says the loss of her “loving and giving” husband to coronavirus will leave a huge gap in the family’s life and urged people to stay at home to prevent further heartache.

David Smyth, of Otley, died aged 62 at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) on Saturday, March 28.

His wife, Corrine Smyth, 52, explained that they only found out after her husband had died that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

She said: “He was taken by the virus in the end, but it wasn’t why he was admitted to hospital initially.

“He’d battled with prostate cancer for nine years.

“He had blood in his urine, so he was admitted to Airedale – then he lost feeling in his legs and the cancer had spread to his bones and compacted his spine.

“So they transferred him to Leeds General Infirmary for surgery, so he contracted it somewhere along that.”

David was in Airedale for around a week before he was moved to LGI, spending around two weeks there prior to his death.

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His cancer diagnosis nine years ago was terminal, but Corinne feels the family have been robbed of valuable time with her husband, thanks to the virus accelerating his death.

She said: “I asked if there was a chance of getting him home, but they said there would be huge risks and we chose not to push at that point.

“We didn’t expect it as quickly as it happened, even when they had him on palliative care the doctors still indicated he had weeks left – both hospitals were absolutely fantastic.

“He set himself goals throughout his battle with cancer – he was never going to give in, he really battled and was telling cancer to go away basically.

“He had chemotherapy three times and he really was battling, and his last words were that he just wanted to get home and wanted to spend his last time with the grandchildren and that was what he was aiming at.”

Corinne was with her husband at the end because they did not know he had the virus - and said she felt extremely lucky.

Doctors told her they could move David into a side room where she could be with him, but that she would have to stay in there with him.

She said: “I jumped at that and I’m glad I did.

“It wasn’t until after, we found out he had tested positive.

“Because of that, I’m in lockdown, my mum is in lockdown because she came to see him after he died.

“I can’t imagine how hard it is for people that can’t be there.”

Corinee said watching her husband suffer with the effects of coronavirus was difficult and she sympathised with doctors who were on the frontline seeing it every day.

She added: “It was peaceful for him in the end – they gave him medication that eased his breathing and took away the pain.

“He was so terrified, he didn’t say it, but you could see it in his eyes.

“The effect of pneumonia is terrible to watch – the doctors are having to do that over and over again.”

David was affectionately known as Teddy to everyone, including his four grandchildren – Peyton (five), Khaled (two), Matilda (one) and Rudy (nine months).

He was born in Kent, then spent the first few years of his life in Northern Ireland, before settling in Skipton in his late teens.

Corinne, who grew up in the village of Bradley, reminisced on how the couple first met 23 years ago.

She said: “My friend from secondary school, who was friends with him, set us up on a blind date.”

The date wasn’t all that great and her friend went ahead and sorted another blind date with someone else, according to Corinne.

But fate intervened, as that date didn’t make it and David stepped in.

Corinne said: “From then we were inseparable – we went to the movies; we were always with each other every night after that.”

The couple got married 22 years ago in 1998 and David took on Corinne’s children from a previous marriage – Michelle, Brontë and Rose – as if they were his own.

Corinne described her huband, who cleaned trains for Northern Rail, as being loved by everyone and said his death will leave a huge void in their lives.

She added: “He had a wicked sense of humour, if there was a slide or swing he would have to try it out to make sure it was good for the kids.

“His life revolved around me and the girls and the grandchildren.

“Our honeymoon was for the kids - he took us to Disneyland.

“We had so many lovely moments on picnics, at the beach, Harlow Carr Garden, Hesketh Farm or Bempton Cliffs, mostly with the girls when they were younger or later on with Peyton.

“Everybody who worked with him, whether on the railway, or in the building trade, everybody said what such a nice guy he is.

“He would do anything to make anyone happy – he would tear himself apart to make everyone happy.

“He was such a loving and giving person, he would give you his last penny and go without."

At the time Corinne registered the death, the family could have had a funeral.

But most of them were in isolation due to David testing positive for coronavirus so were unable to go ahead.

Corinne said: “We can’t have one now.

“We managed to get mementos to be placed with David so at least he knows.

“Then when we start again, we’ll have a service at the church.”

Corinne did not want to condemn the actions of others, but having witnessed the terrifying effects of coronavirus first-hand, she urged people to be responsible.

She said: “I’d hate for anybody to lose someone this way.

“It’s scary watching them when they can’t breathe – to think people are having to do that by themselves, their family can’t be with them.

“If people stayed at home, then that would help the situation.

“I hope it doesn’t happen to anybody, but we know sadly it’s going to.

“You can’t have funerals; you can’t say goodbye properly – it’s just so much heartache.

“I just wish there was a magic wand that makes it all alright, but there isn’t, and people just need to be careful and stay within their homes.

“I know it’s hard, I’m cooped up at home myself and I can’t explain to my five-year-old granddaughter why she can’t come into the house or say goodbye to Teddy.”

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