Tributes to Birstall great-grandfather after his death from coronavirus

A Great-grandfather from Birstall who discovered he had coronavirus after a routine test at a Leeds hospital later died of the illness.

By Mark Lavery
Friday, 24th April 2020, 5:00 pm

Roy Helliwell, 85, was taken to Leeds General Infirmary and transferred to St James's Hospital after he broke his collarbone in a fall at his home in Birstall near Batley on Saturday March 28.

A routine coronavirus test showed he had the illness, but he was not seriously ill and on the morning of Thursday April 2 he was told he was well enough to go home.

But that night his temperature soared and Mr Helliwell was kept in hospital.

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Roy Helliwell pictured with great grandchildren Phoebe and Caden

Mr Helliwell, a retired television engineer, died of Covid-19 at St James's Hospital on Sunday April 5.

His daughter Denise Smith, 63, said: "I'm still in shock, I saw him on the Thursday and he was fine.

"He fell down the stairs and was taken to hospital and on the Sunday afternoon he was dead."

Mrs Smith said her father - who had five children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren - was previously fit and healthy, adding: "He used to walk at least two-miles a day.

"He liked walking around local parks and he was a keen photographer who liked going on trips to the countryside on the bus. He loved to be outside and he loved nature.

"He had a very dry wit and was very charming. He loved seeing his family and will be greatly missed."

Mrs Smith said ten family members had to stand outside Dewsbury Crematorium and were not allowed in the building for his funeral service.

Fighting back tears, Mrs Smith said: "I couldn't even hug my own sister. It was as though it hadn't happened.

"When we get his ashes we will be able to scatter them, but not until the lockdown has ended

"It's like it is dragging and there's no real closure, it's surreal.

"It is just a horrible situation. I really feel for everbody who has lost family through this. It is very difficult to get through to older people that really they shouldn't even go to the local shop, because they are so vulnerable.

"It has really brought it home to me. I was more casual about it, I'm not now. It has brought it home how serious it all is."

Mr Helliwell also leaves children Dean, 51; Stuart, 59; Linda, 57, and Julie, 55; grandchildren Mark, James, Jodie, Laura, Sam, Daniel and Thomas, and great grandchildren Caden and Phoebe.