Wife of respected Lancaster academic praises caring hospital staff who nursed him in his final days with Covid-19

A grieving wife has expressed her gratitude to nursing staff who cared for her husband in his final days.

By Stef Hall
Monday, 4th May 2020, 12:30 pm

Dr Brian James Tabner, BSc, PhD, DSc, FRSC, lost his battle with Covid-19 on April 20 in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where kind hearted staff went above and beyond their duties to pass on messages and phone calls from his family.

Brian, 81, had managed his symptoms at home for 10 days, but sadly his condition declined.

Today Viv, 56, of Springvale, Forton, said: " I would just like to put on record our family's grateful thanks to the amazing staff at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

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Viv and Brian on holiday with friends in the Isle of Wight

"Brian was treated in the Coronary Care Unit for most of his time in hospital and then the final day or so he was on Ward 37.

"For the 12 days he was in hospital I was unable to visit, but the staff took time to take a phone in to him so we could speak and send messages of encouragement.

"Nothing was too much trouble and I could ring anytime to see how he was doing.

"We then discovered you could send messages to patients via the hospital's website. Brian was much too poorly to read his messages but the staff again took time to read the messages to him and he really perked up.

Brian Tabner with sons Dave and Laurence

"We believe his kindness kept him fighting for longer than might otherwise have been the case. Unfortunately his body eventually could take no more, but I was able to sit with Brian for 10 hours until he passed away, which was a great comfort for both of us as I know this has not been possible for all families everywhere.

" When I went in I could see he hadn't just been looked after, he was loved. He looked clean and they had helped him shave. He was very calm.

"This means so much to our family.

"I saw at first hand the kindness, compassion and selflessness the nurses show to the patients in their care and I saw their bravery at first hand.

Dr Brian Tabner

" He had obviously been well cared for and loved in the time we had been apart, and I will never be able to thank the nursing staff enough. They are wonderful."

Brian was born at Wolverhampton on March 4, 1939.

He studied a BSc and PhD at the University of Wales, specialising in electron spin resonance, and was awarded a DSc in 1987.

The keen Walsall FC fan also authored two books about football.

He and his first wife, Wendy, moved to Heysham when he took up his post as a lecturer in Chemistry at Lancaster University in September 1966, before the family moved to Forton.

His research centred around polymer chemistry and reaction kinetics.

Brian became a senior tutor at Fylde College at the University, and took a particular interest in provision for sports.

Wendy tragically died suddenly in 1983 after 19 years of marriage.

But he found happiness again with Viv, a former research student. Despite a 25 year age difference, the besotted couple fell in love and married in 1987.

She said: " He was absolutely perfect. He had a very happy life. He was so kind and loving, and didn't have a bad word about anybody.

" Brian was my best friend and my soulmate as well as my beloved husband. We never thought about the age difference.

" We knew we would have limited time together so made the most of our time together travelling, but also just being together.

"When Brian had died and I came off the ward the nurses were waiting for me and they said they had never seen a stronger love between two people.

"I told them if love comes to you, no matter how unconventional, grasp it with both hands."

Brian took early retirement as a Reader in Spectroscopy in September 1996, but returned to an active research career in Environmental Science.

He worked on attempts to identify an early diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s Disease and only fully retired five years ago.

A University spokesman said: " Brian will be much missed and fondly remembered by the students he taught, colleagues all across the sciences, and family and friends, for his pleasant, kind and unassuming approach and his deep involvement in teaching, research and the development of the university that he served for the whole of his academic career.

Brian was a popular face at Forton Bowling Club, where he was the club secretary, and enjoyed fellwalking.

He and Viv set up a walking group called the Sticky Toffee Pudding Club with former chemistry colleagues, arranging expeditions all across the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

Brian also enjoyed golf and model trains.

A small family funeral was held for the father-of-two on April 27 at St Paul’s church yard, Shireshead, and was live streamed so his son Laurence, who lives in America, could attend virtually.

It is intended to hold a memorial service at St James', Forton, on a date to be arranged.

A Just Giving page in Brian’s name has been set up to raise money for the Bay Hospitals Charity, which will be split equally between Ward 37 and the Coronary Care Unit, both currently COVID wards.