A man whose dad was killed by the coronavirus has issued a stark warning to Brits not taking the lockdown seriously.
Walter Hames, known as 'Wally' or ‘Big Wal’ was "strong – and fit beyond his years", his son Neil has said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced drastic measures aimed at tackling the coronavirus outbreak in the UK on Monday night as he banned people from leaving their homes.
People will only be allowed to step outside if they are going shopping for basic necessities, to exercise once a day, medical needs, and travelling to and from work if they are a key worker.
As the measures were being introduced, Neil was sadly saying goodbye to dad Wally.
The 75-year-old passed away at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital on Sunday, despite being a fit and active man who loved gardening and being with his family.
Wally also leaves behind another child, three grandchildren and his 73-year-old wife, reports Coventry Live.
Neil, from Solihull, shared his message on Facebook, writing: “I didn’t think I would share anything like this but here I am doing it. It is with heavy heart that I find myself sharing the passing of my Dad.
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“A strong man, a fit man despite his years. My go to.
“I have racked my brain how this awful virus that we see in other people’s worlds, the world of TV and make believe, could impact on my family. Well, it managed to find its way into his world – a world of gardening, TV and loving his family. No more.”
Neil, 48, used his tribute, posted on the Solihull Updates Facebook page and on his personal profile, to plead with people to take the spread of COVID-19 seriously.
He said: “So I have seen dog walkers meeting up and having a good old chat. I have seen kids playing out together in parks and streets and people going to pubs and saying **** the virus.
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“In true British style we send jokes and videos to each other making light of it.
“This is serious and it’s closer to home than you think. It is not a joke.”
Wally played for Coventry City's second team in the 1960s and had remained fit and healthy in retirement.
Neil said: “Well yesterday evening my Dad finally had to give up his battle to remain at home, his battle to beat this virus. He lost his battle to not go to hospital, where, if you didn’t have the disease you may well get it. He did not want to go for fear that he would not see my Mom again. I could not tell him how I felt about him, I did not want to make him scared, upset him having to go.
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“I told him to behave in the hospital and waved to him and he waved back. That was the last goodbye and we now have to try and manage our grief apart, in isolation.
"His concerns about not coming home were realised within a couple of hours. The pain and the awful symptoms have gone now for my Dad. Ours are just beginning. I love this man – My Dad.”
Neil said his dad had been a fit and active man who played in the second team for the Sky Blues in the 1960s.
Wally played in centre midfield for Jimmy Hill’s side before a variety of jobs, ending with a position in environmental health with Birmingham City Council.
He was a Birmingham City fan and until a few years ago would join Neil on the terraces at St Andrew’s.
The 75-year-old, from Yardley, still led an active and contented life, spending time in the garden, making trips to the shops with his wife and watching television.
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“My dad was a private man but under the circumstances I want to talk about what has happened, to finally put a face to one of the many lives that have been claimed by coronavirus," Neil said.
"My dad was fit and active, he loved being in the garden and being with his family. What has happened since has been absolutely horrendous, not just with the pain and discomfort it caused my father in his final hours at Heartlands Hospital but in the wider impact it has had on his family.
"My mum has displayed symptoms and while she was found not to have coronavirus we have not been able to console and comfort her.
"My sister is in self-isolation, meaning she is also unable to see our 73-year-old mother. We are not able to do what families normally do as we try to make sense of our loss at this sad and tragic time.
“After my dad passed away I saw groups of people in the park walking their dogs within the two-metre distance and I have received jokes on WhatsApp making light of coronavirus. This is no laughing matter.
"My father was a careful and private man who would make trips to the shops with our mum and see his family. His family was his life, and we are racking our brains as to how he might have caught coronavirus.
"When he first fell ill the paramedics came to our house three times. The first two times they said it would be better if he stayed at home with plenty of fluids, rather than risk going to the hospital where he could catch coronavirus.
"The third time they came, on Sunday, they said my father looked like he was having a heart attack. He lost his battle in hospital the same day.”
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