These were some of the last words Bella Wilson said to her father before he died from Covid-19 just over two weeks ago.
Andrew Wilson, who was just 66, tested positive for coronavirus on New Year’s Day, and weeks later was put on a ventilator in Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
He spent much of his life in Taunton with wife Caroline, who he was with for 37 years. He worked as a gardener for Taunton Deane Borough Council for 25 years and helped the council with their Taunton Flower Show display.
The pair then moved to Cannington, where Andrew won gold twice for Cannington in Bloom, and then retired to Nether Stowey.
“Not only was my dad an incredible father, he was a devoted husband, wonderful grandad, remarkable father in law and just a phenomenal person,” said Bella.
“Dad always lit up any room he walked into and had so much time for other people.
“He wasn’t very poorly when he first caught Covid-19 – he only had sickness and diarrhoea. He soon went to hospital because his lips went blue, and we remained hopeful.
“My parents hardly ever left the house over the past year, they were really safe – we only saw them about five times since March.”
Caroline, who also tested positive for Covid-19 but only had mild symptoms, and Bella managed to visit the intensive care unit (ICU) on the day he died. And although Bella’s sister Kelly wasn’t able to visit, she managed to say her goodbyes over Facetime.
“It was really peaceful when we went to see him,” said Bella.
“Classical music was playing and it was really calm. There was lots of beeping, we had to wear a lot of PPE and it was hard to see him how he was, but Musgrove sectioned off a piece in ICU so it felt like it was just us. Dad couldn’t speak and didn’t know we were there but it didn’t feel like that.
“The nurses at the hospital gave us dads hand print on a piece of paper, and a lock of hair each. And we were all given a felt heart to hold.
“Dad passed away with mum and me holding his hand, and my sister on FaceTime. We said our final goodbyes as he listened to the song he was going to walk me down the aisle too (as I am due to get married in August).
“The ICU department in Musgrove Park Hospital were incredible, along with the family support team. We are all so fortunate that the staff did everything in their power to help dad in such awful circumstances.”
And so the family decided they wanted to gather some donations for the department as a way of saying thank you for the care Andrew received.
When Caroline went in to the hospital to give her husband a shave a few weeks before, she realised the ICU were running low on toiletries. And so Bella decided to put out an appeal on Facebook asking for toothbrushes, toothpaste and so on.
They also managed to raise enough money to buy five iPads for the department as well.
“We were able to Facetime him on the hospital iPad and we could send in pre-recorded videos that the nurses would play,” added Bella.
“The ICU department didn’t have enough iPads to go around, and so that’s what we decided to buy with the extra donations.”
Bella and her family were extremely thankful for staff members Chloe and Judith at the hospital for looking after Andrew and keeping them informed of how he was.
Sara Stuckey, lead nurse at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust’s intensive care unit, said they were “so grateful” for the donations.
“We send our deepest condolences to Bella and her family for their sad loss and they are all in our thoughts during this difficult time,” she added.
“We are so grateful to the family for this very kind gesture, which will go a long way to benefit other patients and their families who we care for.
“All of our staff are really missing the opportunity to spend time with relatives at the bedside, as we would have done before the pandemic. Getting to know the relatives of our patients is such a positive experience and helps to provide a greater understanding of the person they are caring for.
“The generosity, kindness and understanding that families are showing is humbling for us all.”
Andrew’s funeral will be held tomorrow (Thursday, February 18) in Nether Stowey. The family are asking everyone who knew Andrew to light a candle for him at 1.30pm.