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A snapshot of five lost lives in our big picture

Nurse died in own hospital

AREEMA NASREEN, 36, from Walsall. The mother of three died last April of Covid in the hospital where she was a nurse.

Her sister Kazeema, who is training to follow in her footsteps, says: ‘It would be wonderful if there was a memorial to everyone who died of Covid, and I’m really grateful to the Daily Mail for supporting it.

‘The hospital has put in a memorial bench for my sister, and I often go and sit there when I’m on my break. It makes me feel closer to her. Everyone who’s been affected by Covid has been scarred for life by it, so I think it’s right those who died should be remembered in this way.

‘I find it easy to talk about Areema, but not everyone who has lost someone feels that way. A memorial could be a place where one day they could go and pour out all their heartache.’

A scholarship in Areema’s name has been launched to fund a nursing degree for a Walsall student who cannot afford the costs.


Mad golfer who’d just burst into song

JOHN BENNETT, 69, from Swansea.

Daughter Nicola, 48, says: ‘My sister Kelly and I would be chatting with dad in a cafe when he’d burst into song - usually Bare Necessities from the Jungle Book. We used to be mortified but that was dad all over: a larger-than-life presence who would relieve the tension in tricky work meetings by singing lyrics from The Impossible Dream.

‘He was employed in the steel industry all his life, working his way up to become a project manager.

‘A mad golfer, dad enjoyed an annual golf trip to Portugal with his friends.

‘Full of fun, he was every bit as lovely a grandfather to his three grandchildren as he had been a dad.’


Fairground star and mum to all

ELIZABETH EMMETT, 61, from Milton Keynes.

Her niece Ocean, 18, says: ‘Her father Keith ran a fairground, and before he put roots down his children were raised on the road.

‘It suited Elizabeth, a flamboyant figure who had showbusiness in her veins. She was incredibly glamorous, always swathed in Swarovski crystals and enveloped in perfume.

‘You would never catch her in jogging bottoms. She was a hard worker, whether manning the rides, making candyfloss or just sorting drinks and food for everyone. She longed for children of her own but channelled her pain into being a wonderful second mum to the rest of us.’


Daughter who lit up the room

GILLIAN RILEY, 57 from Bolton. Her mother Valerie Holmes, 77, says: ‘Gillian was my bank holiday baby, born on a warm May day in 1964.

‘She was a shy little girl but as a teenager she blossomed into a stunning, charismatic blonde with no shortage of male admirers, and she was one of those people that everybody knew.

‘You couldn’t walk down the street in her home town Bolton without someone saying hello.

‘She lit up the room when she walked in. Gillian had two lovely daughters, although she never married. She was content working as a mobile hairdresser and raising her two pony-mad girls.

‘Any spare money Gillian had went on horses. Her death has left a huge hole, and we’re struggling to accept it. I keep thinking she’s going to walk through our front door.

‘She’s one reason this memorial is so important - something permanent for her family.’


Fawlty fan with a deep chuckle

STEPHEN PASHLEY, 58, from Gravesend, Kent.

Daughter Rebekah, 27, says: ‘Dad had the most recognisable laugh you could ever imagine, this deep, distinctive chuckle that he deployed regularly.

‘My sister Sophie and I heard it most frequently when he was watching one of the old comedies he adored - Fawlty Towers being his absolute favourite.

‘He had a very sweet tooth, and his fridge was always stocked with trifle. He also had a big thing about wolves, too.

‘Dad worked in credit control but by his mid-fifties he decided he wanted to do something different and trained as a dementia carer. He turned out to be a natural: he started work last August he said he felt like he was born for the job.

‘Sadly, he didn’t get the chance to do it for long. At the end of November he tested positive for Covid and died three weeks after being hospitalised.’