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Published: 14:36, 15 April 2020
| Updated: 18:54, 15 April 2020
Tributes have been paid to a former soldier and police officer who died from coronavirus complications at a care home in Kent.
Ian Gardiner had moved to the county from Scotland, spending the last two years of his life in the Warren Lodge care home in Ashford.
Before that, he had served in the Scots Guards and the police force, retiring as he moved to Surrey to stay with his sister.
It was there, at a dance, that he met his future wife Kathy.
She said: "It was 44 years ago now, he had come from Dunbar in Scotland and was a very tall and attractive man, but more than that he was a lovely gentleman.
"He asked me for a dance, and afterwards he took my hand in his and thanked me.
"I thought, 'oh come on and ask for my number!', and in the end I think I put it in his top pocket."
Mrs Gardiner said: "Both myself and my daughter worked full time so it fell to him to look after our granddaughter sometimes, and he absolutely doted on her.
"He always used to call her 'the wee one' in that lovely Scottish way of his, and still did until the day he died.
"He was a handsome, reserved and old fashioned gentleman, a man who in many ways was opposite to me- but they say opposites attract!
"He had a certain charm that ladies were attracted to, even in the care home all the ladies used to joke that he should run away with them!"
However, Mrs Gardiner was informed that her husband had taken ill in the lead up to his death on Monday April 6, to tell her that he had taken ill.
The 74-year-old former palliative care nurse, who was used to seeing her husband every day, had not been able to visit him for almost two weeks.
She said: "I had been fighting tooth and nail to try and get him home because I could look after him, and it was only at that point that they told me he could have coronavirus.
"Then for days I was ringing and ringing, and they were telling me different things each time."
And Mrs Gardiner says that the lack of transparency at the care home made her ordeal worse.
She said: "They just wouldn't tell me either way, I asked them if he was at the end of his life and one minute they said yes and the next minute they said no.
"They said, 'you know him, Kathy, he's just pining for you!'
"They held the phone up to him and I could hear him struggling for breath and I just knew.
"Later that night he died. If they had just given it to me straight then it would have made it easier."
Karl Dawson, Managing Director for Warren Lodge, said: “We’re very sorry that Mrs Gardiner couldn’t be with her husband.
"Though unwell, he was being closely monitored and passed away peacefully in his sleep.
"If there had been any indication that his condition was deteriorating further, we would’ve called his loved ones to be with him.
“We understand how difficult this must be for the family and our thoughts are with them. Mr Gardiner was a popular resident and will be missed by everyone at the home.”
More by this authorAlex Jee
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