THE COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact over so many people's lives.

Among those affected was the family of Shirley Hill, who died at Whiston Hospital aged 79 on February 13 after testing positive for the virus.

Son Peter has shared a very moving account of his mum's battle with the illness and the effect upon the family.

READ > Memorial stone installed to honour those who have died from COVID-19

Shirley and Leslie Hill

Shirley and Leslie Hill

Other than in times of war, nothing has ever affected daily life in the way that the COVID-19 pandemic has. No matter what walk of life you come from, it is highly likely yours or the life of someone you know has been or will be touched by this terrible virus at some point in some way.

Granted, with the vaccine there is cause for some optimism for a better future though this may still be some time off. The vaccine in my family's case however, did not arrive in time and sadly my mum Shirley Hill became another of COVID19’s many victims.

I would like to share my experience with anyone who may be,or at some time in the future could be facing a situation similar to that of my family and in particular my mum.

When mum became unwell it wasn't immediately obvious why and her diagnosis came as a shock. When dad tested positive too things seemed to be looking even more bleak for our family and after testing positive myself even though I had no symptoms and hadn’t been in contact with my parents; I felt utterly devastated.

After getting over the initial shock and as dad and I didn’t need medical assistance, we were cautiously hopeful of a good outcome for mum who was hospitalised and in the care of the staff at Whiston Hospital at that time.

I began to get very concerned for mum's wellbeing towards the end of her first week in hospital. I was informed that a DNR (do not resuscitate) had been put in place for mum and it was becoming clear that she was not improving with the treatment she was receiving. She had no appetite and no progress was being made in dealing with this issue either.

In order to get mum to eat, I took a selection of her favourite foods to the hospital and on this occasion, dressed in full PPE was allowed to sit with her for a short while. The staff labelled the food and assurances were given that mum would be offered what had been brought for her in an effort to tempt her to eat.

By now though, owing to her dependency on the oxygen therapy she was receiving , her mouth had become very sore and combined with the loss of her sense of taste, it meant that she was hardly able to eat any of the food I had brought in for her.

Aside from the obvious, mum was, on reflection, also suffering very badly from the effects of being isolated from family and friends. Imagine if you can being in the company of strangers for in mum's case four weeks, in fear for your life and where the only faces you see are behind masks and face shields. Get well cards and phone calls can only do so much to help in this situation.

Over time mum got weaker and her blood oxygen levels caused grave concern on two occasions that stand out. Shortly after the alarm being raised for the second time regarding this mum sadly passed away.

We said our final farewells on Tuesday, March 9, nearly four weeks after mum's passing, so busy were the funeral directors that this was the earliest date available.

Whilst following full COVID-19 rules for funerals, 25 of mum's nearest and dearest gathered with others viewing the service online outside, around the UK and as far away as New Zealand, New Jersey, Canada and France.

At the end of the service all who had waited outside got to pay their last respects also. All socially distanced, all masked and all very much aware of the devastating consequences of the virus to mum and her surviving family.

I pity anyone who believes that their individual rights are more important than mum and other COVID-19 victims right to life. Those who ignore all advice regarding simple COVID-19 precautions as perhaps it’s not convenient to them.Well I can only assume their families and friends are not as precious to them as mum was to her friends and family.

Theirs is a kind of poverty, when expressed in terms of their apparent inability to appreciate the true value of family and real friendship, is something that I wouldn't wish on even my worst enemy.

As long as this kind of poverty exists, we as a society are all the poorer for it.

Shirley Hill

Shirley Hill

'I will always say that my mum was the best'

TOUCHING tributes have been paid to “the best mum in the world” Shirley Hill, who died from coronavirus aged 79.

Shirley was married to husband Leslie and also leaves behind four children.

Shirley Hill (nee Grimshaw) was born on April 13, 1941, to William and Ellen Grimshaw of Harrow Crescent, Leigh.

As a young woman she got a job in a textile mill in Leigh working in the weaving sheds and attending dances at the Monaco Ball Room in Hindley, where she met and later in 1963 married Leslie Hill. Two years after their wedding the first of four children came along, Thomas, followed two years later by Peter, a year later Janet and Leslie in 1970.

Shirley lived in Haydock all of her married life, and was an assistant in Marian’s Chip Shop for 20 years, serving many people in the community.

Shirley endured a fight with cancer, which with the care and diligence of the staff at the old Whiston Hospital she took this in her stride and without fuss got on with enjoying life.

Son Peter said: “To Shirley this was the only thing to do really as no matter what the storms of life may have brought, her way was that you just had to ‘get on with it’.

This is one of many lessons mum taught me. It has gotten me through the worst times in my life and though I am far from over the loss of mum, I am sure following this lesson will help me on my way.

“Everyone believes that their mum was the best in the world and speaking as one mother’s son, Shirley was the best mum that I and my siblings could ever have wished for.

“If everyone believes their mum was the best, then I would suggest that Shirley could have been anyone’s mum, but my siblings and I were lucky enough to have known her as ours.”

Peter Hill

Peter Hill

Down Harrow Crescent Way

In a little West Lancashire mill town

That goes by the name of Leigh

Down the way on Harrow Crescent one day

Was born a little girl called Shirley

The youngest of 12 children

The baby of them all

Who from her very first beaming smile

Was loved by one and all

For back then daily life was different

And families were your world

To grow up in that place and time

Made Shirley such a special girl

But the years passed by so quickly

And into a woman Shirley grew

Then one night whilst out dancing

She met someone else special too

They married out of true love

For the bond they shared was so strong

And in the course of time were blessed

Four children came along

Even though each child was different

She loved them all the same

And by example taught each one

This too must be their way

Still the years rushed by ever quicker

And still Shirley’s family grew

Very soon before she knew it

Her babies’ babies were parents too

And as it was with children

With others this is true

They only had to meet her once

And they loved Shirley too

For Shirley’s love was a gift to us

Just as sure as the stars do shine

Precious memories to keep

Not just for a week

But from now until the end of time

By Peter Hill