Published: 15:58, 13 July 2020
| Updated: 14:14, 14 July 2020
A fundraiser has been launched to help heartbroken sisters who face losing their family home following the tragic death of their parents.
Gravesend couple and teen sweethearts, Rob and Karen Phillips, were admitted to Darent Valley Hospital after contracting Covid-19.
It was meant to be a year of celebration for the couple – parents to daughters Rebecca, 31, Kirsty, 29, and youngest Lauren, 28 – as they expected their fifth grandchild.
Instead, the sisters endured losing both parents within the space of a week and now fear the family home of more than 20 years could be repossessed.
Dad Rob was the first to fall ill and rang 111 on three occasions after becoming bed-bound by the illness but each time was told to stay home.
The 55-year-old's condition rapidly deteriorated and he was eventually taken to hospital in Dartford on March 30 where he was placed in an induced coma on a ITU ward.
On the same day, his wife Karen, 57, was admitted to another ward where she was put on oxygen to help her breathing.
It came as a huge shock to daughter Rebecca who said her parents rarely went out socialising and were family-orientated people.
"It was just bizarre they even contracted it," said Rebecca. "My mum was an accountant and she worked with one other person in an office.
"We were in contact with them all the time but my dad was very worried it might be [covid] so we wouldn't go and see them.
"They were laid up in bed, they didn't want to eat or drink."
Five days passed before the sisters received the devastating news their dad had suffered organ failure.
Rebecca was told by doctors there was nothing more they could do and that Rob's ventilator would be turned off.
"They were laid up in bed, they didn't want to eat or drink".
What came next proved equally as heart wrenching, as the sisters faced the prospect of saying the family's final goodbye in the absence of mum Karen, who was still in a hospital bed.
It was agreed as Lauren was pregnant, the oldest daughter Rebecca would be the one to say goodbye to their doting dad.
Sadly, an hour after Rebecca said her final goodbyes Rob passed away.
Mum Karen came home to be with her daughters that evening but within a few hours she was rushed back to hospital.
"My mum came home just to be with us but she didn't feel right," Rebecca said.
The next morning Karen told her girls that she was going to be discharged the following day as she no longer needed to be on oxygen.
Again the sisters faced a nervous wait to hear back from the ward and as time went on they began to fear the worst.
Daughter Kirsty rang the ward and was told a doctor would ring her back right away.
Then 30 minutes later they received a devastating call no one would ever want to receive.
A doctor called to say their mum has suffered a heart attack and despite every effort to save her they could not bring her back to life.
Rebecca said it was made all the more heartbreaking by the fact her mum had been due to be discharged but because it was a weekend it is usual hospital policy to keep patients in until Monday.
She paid tribute to her "selfless and loving" parents on what would have been dad Rob's 56th birthday on Friday, July 10.
"My mum and dad would give their last 20p to anyone."
"If my mum and dad could help anyone they would," she said.
Rebecca explained how her mum was an avid knitter and would stitch together outfits for mothers who had tragically lost their babies.
The mum-of-two said: "They were such selfless people – my mum and dad would give their last 20p to anyone."
She went on to add how dad Rob was a family man at heart and was at his most happiest surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
"They loved being together at home," she said. "He wanted to be with us and the grandchildren as much as he could.
"He was one in a million," she said. "I know everyone says that about their dad but that was just what he was like."
Rebecca added how her parents loved big family holidays and they would often all go on one together every year around dad Rob's birthday.
Rob and Karen met as teenagers in south east London where her mum worked at a bank and her dad as a greengrocer.
The couple first got chatting by chance over CB radio when Karen mistakenly thought she was talking to Rob's cousin.
But as Rebecca explained, her mum always had eyes for her father, telling her daughters "she always fancied a Safeway's greengrocer" who would later turn out to be the man she was talking to over the satellite receiver.
However, the sisters, who have since moved out, now fear the family home of more than 20 years in Valley Drive could be repossessed as they struggle to keep up with the final mortgage payments.
"We are so grateful for everything they did for them"
They have clubbed together to pay off the remaining money owed and a fundraiser has been launched to help with their goal – which has raised more than £4,000 so far.
Rebecca, who was due to get married next month, added it would be a shame to lose the house when her parents had worked so hard.
She explained how she and her fiance intended to take over the mortgage so they can live in the property with their two children.
They hope to then use the money raised to pay out equal shares to her two sisters to ensure they don't miss out on the house, which forms the cornerstone of their inheritance from their parents.
But she went on to add the move was not motivated purely by finances and that emotion played a huge part.
"We have been driving past it every day so we are trying to do it so that we don't have to drive past it on the school run and see someone living in our parents' house," she said.
There has been some positive news for the family as youngest daughter Lauren gave birth 10 days after her parents passed away.
And despite the pain of losing them, Rebecca said it was of some comfort to her sister knowing her parents' bodies were still at the hospital when she delivered her baby.
Rebecca heaped praise on the doctors and nurses who attempted to save her parents' lives.
She added how kind the maternity ward were to her sister Lauren after finding out what had happened and even lit LED candles for their mum and dad.
"We are so grateful for everything they did for them," she said. "My mum said how lovely they all were with her."
To donate to the family fundraiser click here.