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'I love you all very much'... dying Tyrone father delivers his final words via video call to his heartbroken wife and family


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The late Patrick Hughes with (from left) children Sinead, Kevin and Joanne, and his wife Eileen

The late Patrick Hughes with (from left) children Sinead, Kevin and Joanne, and his wife Eileen

The late Patrick Hughes with (from left) children Sinead, Kevin and Joanne, and his wife Eileen

The distraught son of a popular pensioner who passed away after contracting Covid-19 has told how medical staff helped grant him his dying wish.

The family of Patrick Hughes got to say their last goodbyes via a video call from their cars at Craigavon Hospital on Monday.

Mr Hughes (69), from Caledon, died in the early hours of Tuesday and was laid to rest on Wednesday.

His eldest child Kevin, who saw him shortly before his death, revealed how a nurse had previously called his mum Eileen, Patrick's wife of 43 years, on Sunday at his dad's request.

"Daddy had asked the nurse to call mummy so he could tell her and the rest of his family how much he loved us all," Kevin said.

"That was a very difficult phone call for us to get because at that stage we were still hoping he was going to make it.

"We all knew he was critically ill but there was no indication that he was dying.

"We were all still hoping he was going to get better."

Kevin (42), a lorry driver, praised the "amazing nurses" in the Covid ward at Craigavon and said his family had been getting regular updates about his father, whose condition was deteriorating as a result of the killer bug.

"When we got a call on Monday to say that a family member could visit, we knew then that it wasn't a good sign," he said.

"We discussed it as a family and decided among ourselves that I would go in."

Around 4pm Kevin said he got "gowned up just like a nurse" and went to see his father, who was able to talk to him despite wearing an oxygen mask.

"He asked me how I was and how business was doing and we were chatting," he said.

"So I got my phone out and video called my mum and everyone on FaceTime from his bedside so they could talk to him too.

"The family were all out in the car park apart from my younger sister, who's isolating at home as she's expecting a baby in May.

"Being able to be there in person and letting everyone speak to him was brilliant.

"I'm taking the good out of it. That's the type of person I am. It was the best hour of my life."

Kevin, Eileen (65) and sisters Joanne Hughes (40) and Sinead O'Donnell (29) have all been drawing enormous strength from each other during this difficult time.

"We're all sticking together and trying to keep each other's spirits up," he said.

"Daddy would have been the type of person to tell us to snap out of it and just get on with things." He added: "But it's hard; sometimes you remember he's gone and it hits you in the stomach."

Kevin said his father's resilience was partly down to "the loss of his eldest son Thomas at just one day old and the death of his brother Brendan at a young age". The Co Tyrone man also paid tribute to his wife Roseanna (41), his sister Joanne's fiance Barry Fox (35) and his brother-in-law Oliver O'Donnell (30), who he said had been "rocks", and the grandchildren - Sarah-Louise (23), Leon (20) [Kevin's son], Mollie (four), Lillie (three) and Tommie, who turns one on May 1. Describing his father, who retired a number of years ago, as a well-loved and popular person, Kevin said he "told it as it was" and enjoyed "keeping people going".

He also said he was "a great father and brilliant grandfather" who would be "dearly missed by everyone who knew him".

"Dad loved his sport, Gaelic and football; he loved Armagh GAA and Man United, and we went to a lot of football matches together," Kevin said.

"He was an inspiration to us all. I keep telling my sisters that we were lucky to have had our years with him and now it's time for him to see his baby Thomas again."

The father-of-one added: "We got a real lift when the people of Caledon paid their respects by lining the streets when we were burying him," he said.

Mr Hughes, who was a bar manager in Armagh prior to working in the mushroom industry, had recently gone into hospital for a routine operation.

His family don't know when or how he contracted the virus as he wasn't tested before leaving.

Mr Hughes became ill with Covid-19 on Easter Tuesday and was taken into hospital one day later.

Belfast Telegraph