Nurse Louise Duncan at Southport Hospital

A nurse who helped a Southport woman who lost both of her parents to Covid-19 within just 24 hours of each other has been nominated as an NHS hero and thanked for her kindness.

Louise Duncan even fought and survived Coronavirus herself, and arranged the delivery of chocolates for staff members throughout Southport and Formby District General Hospital.

She was working at the hospital in March as cases of Coronavirus across the UK began to rise.

As people with symptoms began to be brought in, restrictions were swiftly imposed in order to keep patients and staff safe, including a temporary ban on hospital visitors.

It was at that time when Katrina Hooton saw both of her parents, Barrie and Isobel Edmonds, admitted for treatment on Southport Hospital’s Covid ward after contracting Coronavirus. Barrie was a retired policeman, while Isobel was a retired civil servant. 

Katrina said: “Dad was 80-years-old and Mum was 77-years-old but they were in good health and physically much younger than their ages. 

“It was such a traumatic time with not being able to visit our parents and trying desperately to get their phones to them so we could see them on FaceTime. I can’t describe how helpless we felt.

“I managed to spend a couple of hours with Dad the night before he died thanks to the wonderful caring staff at the hospital. Sadly once we told Mum about Dad she lost the strength to keep fighting and passed away very quickly.

“I am still coming to terms with it all four months later.

“Everything was made ten times harder by Covid restrictions and still is having an impact.” 

Louise Duncan was among nurses working at Southport Hospital at the time. 

She said: “At the end of March, when Covid-19 was on the increase, Katrina – who I didn’t know at the time – posted on Facebook asking if anyone worked on a certain ward at Southport Hospital? I was tagged in the post, so I DM (direct messaged) her.

“She asked would I take some things in for her Mum and Dad, as there was no visiting allowed. I was quite happy to help her out.

“Katrina messaged me one day and said it was OK, she didn’t need my help as her parents had taken a nasty turn and were in the Intensive Care Unit (ITU). That is when our friendship began, with someone I had never met before. I was texting her, asking her how she was and how her parents were.

“Sadly, both of her parents passed away.

“I kept in touch with her every day to make sure she was OK. We eventually met as her family donated things to our hospital ward as an appreciation of the care her parents had received.

“I sent flowers to Katrina to cheer her up and we are arranging to meet up when it is safe to do so. We have so much in common it’s surreal.”

There was a lovely surprise waiting for Louise one day when she arrived in work.

Local Southport company Print ‘n’ Gift UK has been running an NHS Hero initiative where they  will print your mug, add a personalised note, voucher code and some Biscoff biscuits for break time, finally gift wrapping the mug with cellphone and NHS Blue ribbon and bow.

Two Southport businesses, Slimming World Southport with Dee and Doodles Craft Room have also donated gifts for inside the mug including Hifi bars, free NHS Slimming World membership during lockdown and hand-painted pebbles and keyrings. 

Southport Hospital nurse Louise Duncan's custom mug made for her by Southport firm Print n Gift UK

Southport Hospital nurse Louise Duncan’s custom mug made for her by Southport firm Print n Gift UK

The firm will then deliver the gifts to the nominated staff at Southport Hospital. 

Louise said: “One day I was at work and a nurse came up from another ward and presented me with a mug with such lovely gifts in it. I was taken aback as at this time Katrina, who arranged it, is grieving and thought of me and nominated me as an NHS hero.”

Louise also worked hard to cheer up her hard-working colleagues at Easter.

She said: “I also raised money for our ward and bought lots of chocolates. Every member of the ward got a goody bag, so that encouraged me to go one step further.

“I got in touch with Nestle. They were initially donating some goodies for our ward but then they agreed to donate chocolates for the whole of Southport Hospital.

“Wow wasn’t the word – they delivered eight cages of chocolate Easter eggs and sweets. We distributed them throughout the hospital. It was such a joy to put smiles on the faces of our NHS staff in such unprecedented times.”

Southport Hospital staff dealt with a number of Coronavirus cases. Louise herself contracted the disease.

She said: “I started off feeling very fatigued. I felt absolutely freezing cold, but my temperature was 38.1C. I couldn’t concentrate and every bone ached.

“I was sent home and I was taking paracetamol and codeine for the temperature and aches. I felt very cold and couldn’t get warm. I was off work for two weeks. An antibody test for Covid-19 proved positive.

Louise Duncan and colleagues with the delivery of Nestle Easter eggs for staff at Southport Hospital

Louise Duncan (right) and colleagues with the delivery of Nestle Easter eggs for staff at Southport Hospital

“That was my experience of Coronavirus, which was mild compared to other cases I witnessed. It affects people’s breathing and, sadly, they can deteriorate very quickly.”

Southport-based company Print ‘n’ Gift UK was delighted to be involved in thanking Louise as an NHS Hero and is asking local companies and people to nominate other Southport Hospital staff members, or to sponsor mugs.

They said: “We have made dozens of mugs so far and the reaction has been amazing, but we would love to be able to do more.

“The staff at Southport Hospital are working so hard and receiving this gesture from members of the community is a nice addition to their day

“We would love to be able to deliver more of these to our frontline NHS staff and try and get some more mugs sponsored for staff working on the Covid ward.”

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