Daughter held proud dad’s hand as he lay dying from coronavirus

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A daughter who held her dad's hand as he lay dying of coronavirus said he was 'truly one of a kind'.

Mandi Fisher, 28, had already experienced providing end of life care for her mum, Pauline Gibbons, before she died of cancer in 2015.

But she told the ECHO watching her dad, Philip Gibbons, die from COVID-19 was "completely different."

Now Mandi is determined not to succumb to the sadness and pain of her loss, and is on a mission to use her musical talent to "spread joy" and raise money for frontline workers.

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Grandad of four Philip, 85, who had beaten advanced cancer in the past and survived a heart attack, opted against being cared for in hospital and died at his home in Leasowe on April 8, after three weeks of battling high temperatures and pneumonia.

Proud dad Philip Gibbons who died of coronavirus on April 8 , watching his daughter Mandi Fisher sing

Mandi, who cared for him in his final days along with her brother, said: "It was a very hard time. He thought 'I'm going to get better', he would take his tablets.

"I could not tell him he was dying, but towards the end he began to realise and he would say he didn't want his medication.

"He said to me 'I would rather go than feel like this any longer'. In the end he held on for four days in a coma.

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"I have watched my mum die of cancer, but this was completely different. It was like he was drowning, that is the only way I can describe it."

Mandi says she slept next to her dad while he battled the disease, holding his hand "just like I did for mum" years earlier.

She said her former soldier dad, who also worked on the docks and as a school caretaker, was a "cheeky character."

She said: "Everyone just loved him, everyone was just drawn to him. He would go to all of my music shows, even when I was playing in Wolverhampton and he was in a wheelchair he would be there…

Leasowe grandad Philip Gibbons, 85, who died of coronavirus on April 8, with his late wife Pauline Gibbons who died of cancer in 2015

"He was the proudest grandfather too, spoiled all his grandchildren rotten. He was truly one of a kind that's for sure."

Mandi says her dad was her "biggest fan" and the pair enjoyed a final show together at Leasowe Castle shortly before the March 23 lockdown.

After spending weeks caring for her dad, Mandi caught the disease and battled pneumonia for three days in Arrowe Park Hospital before being told she was well enough to recover at home.

She said: "I beat the virus and I am on a mission to bring music and joy to as many people as possible in my dad's memory, and for everyone who's lost a loved one to this awful virus.

Leasowe grandad Philip Gibbons, 85, who died of coronavirus on April 8

"I could choose to sit and cry and let my children see their mummy heartbroken, or I can get up and go and make something positive happen from this situation and so far I have raised £500 for front line workers in memory of my dad and all victims of COVID-19."

Mandi says she has sung outside care homes, with the residents watching from a window, and surprised a five year old girl with down syndrome and leukaemia by singing outside her home.

Mandi's plan involves using money donated by well-wishers and anyone who enjoyed her music to buy treats from local businesses that may be struggling in the lockdown, and then donate them to frontline NHS and care workers.

And she has already had some gifts donated to her, from Honey Lash Salon in Moreton, to distribute to front line workers.

She said: "Over the next six weeks I've got eight care homes lined up to sing in a space in their garden while residents watch from the windows and doors.

"My dad was my biggest fan of my singing and I know this is what he would want for me; to sing to the world and spread joy in his memory

"I won't let his death be remembered as a negative time. His smile lit up every room he walked in and his memory will always be remembered that way."

Mandi also streams her performances on her facebook page here, and anyone wishing to donate can do so here.

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