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Couple married 71 years die days apart of covid after holding hands in hospital beds

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A couple married for 71 years died five days apart with coronavirus – in hospital beds next to each other so they could hold hands.

Pat, 91, and Ron Wood, 94, lost their lives just days apart after contracting coronavirus.

They were able to hold each other’s hands before dying at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex.

Second World War veteran Ron, who was Worthing Football Club’s top goalscorer, died on May 23.

Five days before his beloved Pat died in her sleep.

Ron contracted the virus first and was taken to hospital, shortly followed by wife Pat.



Pat and Ron had been married for 71 years
Pat and Ron had been married for 71 years

Their only child, daughter Nikki Evans, said the hospital had been ‘brilliant’ in caring for her parents.

They were both in the Covid ward in separate male and female areas, but medics allowed them to be moved together for their final days.

Nikki said: “They put mum and dad in a four-bed bay, just the two of them, so they could hold hands for the last four days before Mum passed away in her sleep.

“After Mum passed away on May 18, they cared for Dad compassionately in his last few days until he passed away on May 23.

“Mum and Dad both had coronavirus and were in the Covid ward. He got Covid, came home, and we all got it.

“They were originally in the male and female ward but Mum was very keen to be in the same ward.

“They died together, in a short space of time, after being married for 71 years. So although it’s not nice, they would not have wanted to be on their own.”

Maria Reina, the staff nurse at Worthing Hospital who cared for Ron on the ward, said: “Seeing them together, holding hands was very special.

“It made me feel very proud to be a nurse.”



For five years the pair ran a store together
For five years the pair ran a store together

The couple had first met outside a post office when Ron was 22 and Pat was 19.

Ron, who was just out of the Royal Navy, was standing outside with his bicycle when Pat popped in to take some money out, and he was still there when she came out.

They then talked and their relationship grew.

They were married at Broadwater Parish Church on April 23, 1949, and set up home in Worthing.

Both their funeral services were held on Monday June 8 at a crematorium in their home town.

Nikki said visiting her parents was tough during the pandemic and she had to speak to them via video call.

She added: “Worthing Hospital was brilliant, wonderful and caring. I would like to thank all the team, doctors, nurses and the ward clerk.

“In these challenging times, when visiting is restricted to a minimum, it was never too much trouble to let me speak to them on the iPad.”

Ron nearly died in his 20s when he was struck down with a mystery illness.

He had been Worthing Football Club’s top goal scorer season after season since the Second World War when he was hit with heart problems.

In 1953 he spent a year in hospital before finally being diagnosed with endocarditis, an infection in the heart.



The couple were able to hold hands in beds next to one another at Worthing Hospital
The couple were able to hold hands in beds next to one another at Worthing Hospital

He then faced the devastating news he would never play football again.

It was three years after he and Pat were married and the football club did everything it could to support the couple.

Ron’s footballing style was described as energetic and bustling, either as centre forward or inside forward, and he made 12 appearances for Sussex.

Such was his popularity, the Ron Wood Appeal Fund was set up to help him and enough money was raised to give Ron and Pat the deposit to buy a general store in South Farm Road, Worthing.

The couple ran the Ron Wood Stores shop for five years, then gave it up because they wanted children.

Nikki was born in 1959 and Ron went into management with Seeboard, working in nearby Shoreham for 21 years.

Pat worked at Marks and Spencer in Worthing town centre for 28 years, then at Goring Hall Hospital for 11 years, and met Princess Margaret when she officially opened it on October 26, 1994.

She retired at the age of 73.

The couple leave behind two granddaughters and four great-grandchildren.





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