‘Best mum in the world’ dies as four family members get covid-19

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Tributes have flooded in for a grandmother who devoted her life to others after she and three other family members contracted coronavirus.

"Best mum in the world" Carol Challoner, 65, died in Aintree Hospital with her husband by her side after putting up a "strong and courageous" fight against coronavirus.

The West Derby grandmother-of-six has been described as "the heart" of a family and as someone who always thought about others.

Paying tribute, her daughter, Carol-Ann Challoner said: "I genuinely don't know anyone who didn't like my mum, she was like a child at heart.

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"She would laugh and joke with everyone."

Speaking to the ECHO, Carol-Ann said four people in her family of key workers contracted coronavirus.

Teacher Carol-Ann, her father Joey, an ambulance driver, her mother Carol, a social worker, and her brother, Joseph, who works with children who have learning difficulties, all contracted the virus in March when much less was known about it.

Carol-Ann, 46, said: "I developed a rash, and I just thought it was allergies. It seemed at the time when I was eating bread I was coming out in a rash, and I'd just changed washing powder, so I thought it was that.

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NHS staff outside Aintree Hospital

"I didn't really take any notice of it. The day after my dad came home from work and I was having my tea that night with my mum and dad, I don't live with them but I cook for them and they cook for me.

"He came home and he said 'I really don't feel well, I can't get warm'. He didn't join us for tea, but then he developed all signs of Covid-19. The day after that I started developing symptoms as well.

Grandmother-of-six Carol devoted her life to helping others

"The morning after was the last day the Government were keeping schools open and I wanted to say goodbye to my Year 11's, and I was thinking of going in. Luckily I didn't go in because I felt too unwell.

"We all had different symptoms, I had the rash, my dad got cold shivers and flu-like symptoms.

"So I self-isolated for a week, my dad self-isolated for a week."

Carol "loved spoiling people", her daughter said

Carol-Ann said the following week her symptoms worsened and she got to the point she struggled to breathe, so she had to go to hospital.

While there, she heartbreakingly heard nurses mention her mother's name and was told she would also need to come into hospital because of her coronavirus symptoms.

She said: "I heard them say her mum's on her way up and I panicked. I started crying, I just kept thinking 'my poor little mum'.

"I just kept thinking she shouldn't be here."

At first, Carol-Ann said her mother didn't have difficulty breathing, as she had, but had flu-like symptoms, started to hallucinate and that was when an ambulance was called.

Carol-Ann added her mum didn't have any underlying health conditions, had type-2 diabetes, but was regularly at the gym and was "quite fit"

Doting staff at Aintree Hospital asked the mum and daughter if they would like to be next to each other, but Carol-Ann said she thought the pair would worry too much about one another to focus on their recovery as much as they could.

As Carol-Ann's condition improved, she was told her mum would need to be taken to the intensive care unit.

Dressed in personal protective equipment, Carol-Ann was allowed to speak to her mum before she was taken to the unit.

She said: "They gowned me up, put gloves on me, attached me to an oxygen tank and put a viser on me before taking me into my mum's bay.

"There were patients around in the bay and about three nurses and I started to cry. When they took me to go and see my mum I think everybody was shocked because we were mother and daughter.

"We just cried uncontrollably, all the patients sat around were crying and even the nurses started crying. We were both just exhausted.

"With the masks and everything we couldn't really talk to each other."

Carol sadly died some time later, after spending a few weeks in hospital.

Paying tribute to her mum, Carol-Ann wrote on a gofundme page for NHS staff : "We are all absolutely devastated because we genuinely thought my mum was coming home, but that was not to be.

"Everyone says their mum is the best mum in the world, but my mum truly was."

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Talking about her mum's life, Carol-Ann said her parents were together for 47 years and were childhood sweethearts.

She said: "We're really lucky, me and my siblings and my nephews, because my mum and dad met when they were kids so we're really lucky and blessed we had our parents for so long.

"The two of them idolised each other."

Carol devoted her life to helping the most vulnerable and worked as a social worker for Liverpool City Council, specifically helping children leaving care find and get settled in a home.

Carol Challoner, 65, worked for Liverpool City Council for 17 years before she died with coronavirus

The youngest of ten children, Carol-Ann said her mum would always go out of her way to buy treats for her grandchildren, her "little soldiers", and make other people smile.

Carol-Ann said: "She'd get [people leaving care] to the next stage, she'd get them flats and houses. She worked with them to get into university. We've had so many messages from the young people.

"One girl said she used to love her coming round, she said she'd have cups of tea with her and sit with her baby.

"She [Carol] used to buy them clothes, sit and talk to them, have tea with them and she would teach them how to clean, how to do household things."

She said her mum would go out of her way to decorate her home at Christmas and would usually get stuck in supermarkets "for hours" because of how much she loved speaking to people.

Carol-Ann added: "She just loved kids. She would spoil people at Christmas and spend a fortune.

"She'd say 'If I want to buy my little soldiers something, I will'. She loved spending time with her grandkids.

"She just brought us all together."

Carol-Ann was so moved by the compassionate care she and her mother received in hospital she has set up a a gofundme page for NHS staff, in her mother's name, to raise funds for NHS staff.

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She said she wants the money to go towards buying luxuries for staff to pamper themselves with, after seeing how difficult their long shifts wearing PPE were.

She said: "All the nurses said I can't wait to go home and take a shower, or go in the bath, or put my pyjamas on. Just watchintg them I felt so sorry for them.

"They just seemed so deflated, but they still tried to put a smile on your face."

The response to the page has been huge so far, with many kind donors and friends of Carol's wanting to donate in her name.

The page can be found here.

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