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Family's plan for commemoration after grandad from Woodchurch Crescent, Gillingham, caught coronavirus

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The family of a beloved grandad who died around the peak of the coronavirus epidemic plan on holding a commemorative reunion once restrictions are eased.

Ken Wallin, 83, from Gillingham , died five days after his birthday, having caught coronavirus and suffering a fatal heart attack in hospital.

Ken Wallin, 83, passed away after catching coronavirus
Ken Wallin, 83, passed away after catching coronavirus

Mr Wallin, from Woodchurch Crescent, had lived with his son and five of his 18 grandchildren for more than 10 years, and granddaughter Lisa Manley paid tribute to him.

Mrs Manley, 37, said: "He used to walk us to school, we used to play with his hair and put clips in it, he made us our packed lunches. He was always there for us."

The Laurel and Hardy super fan, who had five children, started feeling ill on his birthday, April 5, complaining of breathing problems and a sore throat.

Family were not not able to visit because of lockdown, but he had spent his special the day chatting to relatives on Facetime.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance the next day. One paramedic told Mrs Manley's sister, Mary, who was with Mr Wallin at the time, that her grandfather had a chest infection, but another was more concerned that something severe had taken hold.

Ken Wallin (centre) with his grandchildren
Ken Wallin (centre) with his grandchildren

Once at Medway Maritime Hospital, Mr Wallin was ringing his family and making jokes, and they clung to the hope he did just have a chest infection.

Later that day, Mrs Manley, a carer, received a call, telling her Mr Wallin's chest x-ray indicated coronavirus.

The family were shocked as Mr Wallin, who lived in sheltered accommodation and had severe heart problems, had not been out anywhere during lockdown.

"He hadn't gone out, but as we now know, it spreads very easily, so it could have been anything, a hand rail, or shopping," the mum-of-three said.

The former warehouse manager's condition then deteriorated quickly and he was being fed oxygen through a mask.

The family were warned that because of Mr Wallin's heart problems, he could not be placed on a respiratory machine or given CPR.

'He was incredibly kind and generous...'

On April 10, Mr Wallin suffered a heart attack and died. Mrs Manley believes the coronavirus placed too much strain on the organ.

A funeral with restricted numbers was held in May, with the service streamed online for those who could not attend.

"There was no wake, we just had to go home afterwards. We are hoping to get all his family together as soon as we can, so we can all remember him and tell stories," Mrs Manley said.

Super fan Ken Wallin at a Laurel and Hardy convention with impersonators
Super fan Ken Wallin at a Laurel and Hardy convention with impersonators

As well as treasured memories, Mr Wallin has left many birthday and Christmas presents behind for his relations.

This means for the next two years at least, the family will be opening gifts chosen for them by Mr Wallin.

Mrs Manley said: "He bought presents years in advance. We used to tell him he didn't have to but he used to say 'I want to make sure everything is okay'.

"He got my mum and dad their ruby and diamond anniversary gifts. He was incredibly kind and generous."

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