Heartbroken family speak out after losing grandmother to coronavirus

The loved ones of a great-grandmother killed by the coronavirus have issued a passionate plea for people to stay at home to save lives as they “put a face” to the victims of Covid-19.

Ann Stephenson, 61, who lived in South Shields until she moved to South Hylton in Sunderland a few years ago, fell ill just days after celebrating her son’s 30th birthday.

On Sunday, March 22, she was sent steroids and antibiotics, but by Monday, she was struggling to breathe due to pneumonia and was admitted into Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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Test results on Tuesday confirmed she had developed COVID-19, with medics only able to make her comfortable using oxygen and painkillers.

Ann Stephenson, 61, was devoted to her family.Ann Stephenson, 61, was devoted to her family.
Ann Stephenson, 61, was devoted to her family.
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Visiting restricted at South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals to protect patien...

Under strict observation and wearing protective gear, her four children and devoted husband of 42 years, Brian, 63, were at her bedside as she lost her fight for life on Thursday, March 26.

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Now they are in isolation and face the reality of attending her funeral under restrictions, while friends and other family members are invited to watch her be taken from her home or stand outside the city’s crematorium for the service.

They plan to celebrate her life when the crisis is finally over.

Ann Stephenson with her husband Brian. The couple were married for 42 years.Ann Stephenson with her husband Brian. The couple were married for 42 years.
Ann Stephenson with her husband Brian. The couple were married for 42 years.

Ann, who spent her career as a childminder before spending a short time at an independent living centre in Sunderland, leaves children Melanie Stephenson, 39, Debbie Cragg, 37, Laura Hardy, 33, and Brian Stephenson as well as seven grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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Laura posted on Facebook as she called for people to “put a face to coronavirus” after her mother was cruelly taken by the disease “whilst stupid, stupid people are still walking the streets and fighting over loo roll.”

She added: “It’s real, and its close, Sunderland Royal close enough?

“This isn't just numbers on the news, its mams, dads, grandparents, sisters, brothers, friends, wives, husbands...Simple rules really STAY AT HOME!!!”

She added: “Sunderland Royal rang on Wednesday to tell us we needed to visit – the hospital were amazing and we realise that we were very lucky we could and very grateful for that.

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“She knew we were there.

“She was just such a good person, so kind, and would do anything for anybody, especially for her family, and she was loyal and loving, she didn’t have a bad bone in her body.”

She said she had been stunned by the support for her social media post.

Laura added: “I think there’s just so much on the news, and I do it myself, you just hear all these statistics, but it could be your mam or dad, or your neighbour, friends and other members of your family

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“I want people to think about it.

“We watched our mam suffer and die in such a horrific way and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

“I want to do my mam justice and hopefully putting that post out will make people think.”

Ann will leave her family home for a service at 1pm on Wednesday, April 8, at Sunderland Crematorium, with those who knew her welcome to listen in from outside.