Ken Newton died at Worthing Hospital on February 6, the day before his 74th birthday, leaving behind his wife, three daughters, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
His family has now raised more than £3,000 in his honour for Love Your Hospital, the dedicated charity for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation.
Lucy Newton his daughter, said her father would be ‘delighted’ by the total raised.
“It’s telling that all these people, in such a difficult time, have been able to donate,” she said. “He was the kindest, most generous, lovely man you would ever meet.
“Anyone who came into contact with him, he would make them feel like they were the most special person in the world.”
The family last come together as three households on Christmas Day, as permitted under the coronavirus guidelines.
Lucy said it was particularly nice as it meant they could all watch the first episode of the hit Netflix show Bridgerton, which stars Ken’s grandson, Luke Newton, as Colin Bridgerton.
But over the next few days, one by one, the family started to suffer covid symptoms – headaches, scratchy throats and the loss of taste and smell.
This was despite being ‘so careful’ at the gathering, Lucy said.
“We were still social distancing, we weren’t hugging, we weren’t near eachother,” she said. “It feels like it came in like a green mist and got everyone.”
Ken and Lucy’s brother-in-law Lee were the worst affected. They were soon taken into Worthing Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit.
After some time, Lee was able to return home, where he is still recovering from the effects of the virus.
Ken remained at the unit on a ventilator for 27 days.
It was rollercoaster experience for his family, who were told on two separate occasions that he would not make it.
But Lucy said her father was looked after ‘so well’ by the intensive care unit staff, as well as the physiotherapists who cared for him.
“I can’t praise our NHS staff enough,” she said. “The conditions they are having to work in with PPE, and the care and compassion they are showing to people.
“Putting their lives at risk everyday to go and fight this evil virus, worrying they might take it back to their families.
“I had no idea what was going on at our hospitals until this happened to our family.”
They were able to Facetime with Ken nearly everyday, using ipads funded by Love Your Hospital.
“It meant everything because we couldn’t see him in person, we couldn’t hold his hand,” Lucy said. “That’s been the hardest thing about it, having to stay away.
“It was the only way we could feel connected to him.
“All day everyday we were just waiting for the phonecall to update us and waiting for the Facetime.
“It was important to us to know we could talk to dad.”
Meanwhile the hospital’s ‘Knowing Me’ programme saw staff gather lots of information about Ken – his love for Brighton and Hove Albion, his likes and dislikes – so that his care team could get to know him.
Family photos were placed around him and he was played voice notes sent by well-wishers.
Lucy said: “[The care team] can see the person and who it is they are trying to save, which was such a great comfort to us.”
The family were keen to give back to the NHS through the Love Your Hospital fundraiser.
Ken’s grandson Luke has also recorded a cover version of him and some friends singing Coldplay’s Yellow which is dedicated to the charity – watch the video here.
Lucy thanked everyone who had donated. “As a family, we couldn’t be more grateful to everybody.”
To donate, visit the fundraising page here.