Preston hospital workers line grounds to pay tribute to worker who died of Covid-19

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A hospital worker has been given a guard of honour on his final journey by heartbroken colleagues.

Chris Mortimer, 71, who worked for more than 20 years at the Royal Preston Hospital in the pathological lab and as a phlebotomist, died on November 18 after contracting Covid-19.

As a mark of respect, staff at the hospital requested that his funeral cortege be driven passed the main entrance and the hospital flag was lowered to half mast.

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Chris’ daughter Tracey, 51, said: “We weren’t expecting so many people to come and stand outside and pay their respects.

The hearse passes the main entrance of RPHThe hearse passes the main entrance of RPH
The hearse passes the main entrance of RPH

“When we arrived in Sharoe Green Lane and had to turn right into the hospital grounds, I heard a siren and thought we’d have to stop to let an ambulance in. But the ambulance had come to stop the traffic to let us in, and then because my dad was a phlebotomist, a blood biker escorted the hearse in.

“It was lovely what they did and made it more special, considering we were only allowed 15 people at the service at Preston Crematorium. It really showed how loved dad was and it gave him a proper send-off. The whole family would like to thank the hospital for that, and for the care they gave dad in Intensive Care.”

Mr Mortimer, who leaves wife Anne, children Tracey, Paul and Damian as well as eight grandchildren, was brought up in Ashton and moved to Fulwood.

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He worked as a senior manager for BT before taking early retirement and then began working at the hospital. He was still working part-time up to his death.

Colleagues pay tribute to Chris MortimerColleagues pay tribute to Chris Mortimer
Colleagues pay tribute to Chris Mortimer

Tracey said: "He was very adaptable and he had brilliant people skills. He even volunteered to take blood at events run by the hospital for prostate cancer screenings.

"He was fun and kind and caring. He was very friendly and had time for anybody. People have commented that he always had time for a chat."

To reflect his passion for Preston North End, a club scarf was draped over his coffin, and the cortege also passed Deepdale, where friends were waiting to show their respects.

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Karen Partington, Chief Executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with the family and loved ones of Chris Mortimer at this time.

Mr Mortimer attending a PNE game with son Paul and two of his grandchildrenMr Mortimer attending a PNE game with son Paul and two of his grandchildren
Mr Mortimer attending a PNE game with son Paul and two of his grandchildren

"It was with great sadness that we learned of Chris’s death and it was a privilege to be able to able to join his guard of honour as the funeral cortege went past.

"We have lost a brilliant colleague and friend. One of his colleagues called Chris the ‘nicest, happiest and most approachable member of staff’ she had had the pleasure to know, and said his patients ‘adored his happy demeanour and positive outlook’.

"Support is in place for those staff members closely affected by Chris’s passing, and we would once again like to extend our utmost sympathies to Chris’s family, friends and colleagues at what is an extremely difficult time.”

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