'This has been devastating for our family': Key worker who lost dad to Covid urges government to remember those who lost lives
A Leyland mum is calling on the Government to create a national public holiday of remembrance for the lives lost during the pandemic after recently losing her dad to the virus.
Mum-of-one Rachael Lidgett, 35, has kickstarted a parliamentary petition calling on the Government to introduce an annual national holiday on March 23, to remember those who lost their battle with Covid-19.
After her dad Christopher Cooper walked into Royal Preston Hospital expecting a check up and some medication for a crackle sound when he was breathing, the family didn't know that it would be the last time they would see him before being told to say their goodbyes.
According to her and brothers Richard and Adam, their dad, who was just 63, was healthy with no underlying health conditions.
She said the loss has "devastated" their family and now wants to spread awareness that coronavirus can have fatal effects, even for those without preexisting medical implications.
Rachael said: "I had seen in my work the effects Covid was having, there were low staffing levels and I could see how fast it spreads. Because of my work, our family was very cautious and careful.
"I had coronavirus last year and my dad was doing the shopping for me whilst we were all isolating but it hit me harder more than I thought it would.
"Then we found out that my dad had Covid but at this point he wasn't suffering many major problems, he was just sleeping a lot."
It was when Christopher began to have breathing problems that his wife Sue suggested that he called 111 and had his symptoms checked out.
Although first responders told them that he had good oxygen saturation levels, a crackle sound when breathing - often indicating fluid on the lung, meant he made what he thought would be a short trip to the hospital last November.
The sight of him walking through the hospital doors in his dressing gown on November 22 was the last time his family would see him before he lost his battle with the virus.
Within two days he had been moved to the intensive care unit, then nine days later he was hooked up to a ventilator relying on 100 per cent oxygen to breathe.
And just four short days after that, the family received a call telling them there was nothing more that could be done for him unless he began breathing on his own.
Rachael said: "As a family, we had been video calling him every night and catching up from hospital because we couldn't see him and he seemed to be okay but was struggling with shortness of breath.
"We were then told we had to go and say our goodbyes. In our eyes we had been dropping off a guy who was just going to get some medication and come back home. All I can say is it has been absolutely devastating for our family.
"We are such a close family and people can only imagine how hard it has been for us. Given the pandemic, it has been even harder because we are trying our best to mentally support each other but can not mix households.
"I can't describe what this has made me go through with sleepless nights and not eating. Since he died I have, all of a sudden, been exposed to Covid support groups and you hear about so many people who have had the exact same experience."
The loss of her dad inspired Rachael to set up the new petition, in a bid to urge the Government to consider a national holiday to remember those who died of the virus in years to come.
At 10,000 signatures, the Government will respond, and at 100,000 it will be debated in parliament.
"I knew that I wanted to try and do something to make a difference. This pandemic is going to be in history books in years to come and children will be learning about this in schools," she said.
"We are still losing so many people and I think it is important that we continue to remember them. It has nearly been a year since the first lockdown and is coming up to the anniversary of many people's deaths.
"I want people to sign the petition and help to share it. If every person who has lost somebody to Covid in this country signed it and got on board, we would be close to the 100,000 mark. If nothing else, I will be happy that people are talking about the impact this has head and the devastation it can leave behind."
The petition can be signed here.
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