Published: 12:00, 08 April 2021
| Updated: 17:57, 08 April 2021
A Falklands veteran died suddenly in his wife's arms just five days after his life insurance lapsed.
Devastated Julie Sentkovsky has not been able to properly mourn her husband of 25 years as she is left facing a financial mountain, with funeral costs and mortgage payments becoming unpayable.
Ivan, 59, of Carlton Avenue, Gillingham, passed away from an aneurysm in his stomach on Friday, March 26.
Medway Maritime Hospital switchboard operator Julie said: “Ivan woke me up at 4.45am saying he was in so much pain.
“He was never one to go to the doctors for anything but I had never seen him scream like that.
“I called 999 and they said they were on their way but within three minutes of that call he was laying on the bed in agony.
“As I held him in my arms his last words to me were ‘I can’t breathe’.”
After calling the emergency services again, Julie was instructed to perform CPR.
Shortly after, five paramedics arrived and attempted to resuscitate him for 45 minutes.
But they were unable to save the father-of-three.
The 55-year-old added: “The night before he was so happy. Our daughter, Stacey, had booked her wedding abroad for next year.
“He went to bed so excited about it, he had been looking at hotels saying it was going to be a holiday.”
Ivan and Julie met when she was 18 and he 22.
He was a Royal Engineer stationed at Brompton Barracks and the couple met in a pub nearby.
They married in 1996 and their life together has been described as a love story by their family.
Ivan fought in the 1982 Falklands War and was also stationed in Northern Ireland and Belize.
He also served with 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers, a small unit then based in Aldershot, which provided combat engineer support to the Parachute Regiment.
Julie added: “He had worked every day of his life and after leaving the army he became an HGV driver.
“However, 10 years ago he had a mini stroke and lost his licence for a year, but even then he didn’t let that stop him, he began yard work instead.”
Ivan was dad to Kirsty, 34, Stacey, 31, and Jack, 27.
The family say due to the pandemic he was unable to visit his GP for regular blood pressure and cholesterol tests he should have been receiving.
Due to his unexpected death, Julie has been left with no support with regard to their mortgage.
She said: “Because of when he died, the mortgage company have explained they can’t help us at all due to the fact his life insurance lapsed just five days before.
“To cover the cost of his funeral is also going to be tough. We want to give him the send-off he deserves.”
In support of his family, one of Ivan’s military friends set up a GoFundMe page to not only cover the ceremony but also help Julie pay the mortgage for the next few months. It costs her £600 per month and there’s only £25,000 left to pay off.
She added: “I’m so worried about losing my house, I don’t know what to do. But because he died at home I find it really difficult to go upstairs in our room where it happened. I get flash backs and I can’t eat at the moment either.
“He loved his home, he worked all his life, fought in the war and now the mortgage companies won’t even help me with the house payments.
“I’m so grateful for the money that has been raised so far. We have had donations from some of his army friends that I didn’t even know about. He was a great man and loved by so many.
“One of my fondest memories was when Ivan was in the army and we would write letters to one another.
“One day, 35 years ago, he gave me a Wagon Wheel biscuit and I still have it today. I still have everything he gave me in a box.
"Ivan would’ve been 60 this year, he loved a cruise and was looking forward to so much, you just never think you’re going to go so young.”
So far, more than £5,000 has been raised in Ivan’s name. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page here.