'Paul never left me and he'll always be part of me'

Paul will always be by my side.

Saturday, 2nd January 2021, 7:00 am
Jacky and Paul Ramsden on a holiday

That’s the message from the widow first Covid patient to die at Blackpool Victoria Hospital as she faces up to a new year living alone.

Jacky and Paul Ramsden were together for 40 years and Paul was a fit 80-year-old – a keen cyclist and gym-goer – when he was rushed to hospital last March when Jacky was unable to wake him one morning.

The couple had been enjoying a holiday on La Gomera in the Canary Islands when all Spanish territory was locked down as the pandemic took hold.

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Paul was tired on the long journey but they put that down to fatigue and he had an early night to try and get over it.

“But I couldn’t wake him the following morning and after a call to the 111 phone line, an ambulance arrived to take him to the Vic and that was the last I saw of him,” said Jacky.

Paul died five days later and the tributes from friends and former workmates at BAE Systems at Warton, where they met as colleagues and from he retired in 1999, poured in.

“Everyone who dealt with us, from the 111 service, the paramedics and all at Blackpool Vic, was wonderful, but I could only keep in touch with how he was doing by phone,” she said.

“It was a horrible feeling - I just wish I could have held his hand, and the restrictions at the time mean I had to travel to and from his funeral alone.

“But they grief is a journey – the path twists and turns, has ups and downs, rocky patches, boggy bits and the occasional precipice, but I feel I have Paul at my side holding my hand and steadying me.

“He never left me and he’ll always be part of me. Whether you ever reach your destination, I don’t know. I guess there’s always one more little hummock.”

The couple met when Jacky arrived at BAE Systems in Warton as a graduate trainee.

Paul was a widower with two small children and friendship as Jacky helped out with events such as children’s parties blossomed into romance and the couple were married at Church Road Methodist Church in St Annes in 1980.

“It really was a wonderful 40 years together,” she said. “We travelled to so many wonderful places and there are so many great memories.”

Jacky, 64, recently took part in National Grief Awareness Week and feels it is important that support is there for the bereaved.

““We need to get rid of the taboo surrounding loss,” she said.

“We need to start with children explaining about death perhaps through the loss of pets.

“I am lucky in that I have had support from friends and neighbours through this difficult time, but not everyone does. So many people this year have not been able to say goodbye properly.”