A couple who fostered more than 100 children during their 48-year marriage have tragically died within weeks of each other.
Barbara Newell, 67, died from lung disease less than a month before her husband Allan, 72, contracted coronavirus and passed away, their heartbroken daughter said.
The couple, who had three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, acted as foster carers for 36 years in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
They won an award for their dedicated service to foster care which saw them take in in more than 100 youngsters and provide a safe home for severely disabled children.
Tragically, Mrs Newell died on March 7 after suffering from terminal pulmonary fibrosis since 2017.
Barbara Newell, 67, died from lung disease just a month before her husband Allan, 72, contracted coronavirus and passed away, their heartbroken daughter said (Pictured: Barbara and Allan Newell)
Her husband had lovingly cared for her as her as her condition deteriorated over the past 12 months, despite suffering from diabetes and prostate cancer himself.
He was rushed to hospital when he collapsed at home just three weeks after Mrs Newell passed away.
He was then diagnosed with Covid-19 and died in hospital on April 9.
Their daughter Jude Greaves-Newell, 46, an advanced clinical A&E practitioner, has now spoken of her pain at not being able to visit her ill father.
She said: ‘We couldn’t be there for him, we couldn’t see him, we couldn’t visit him.
‘The last time I saw him, he was in the back of the ambulance saying “I’ll be back in an hour”.
‘We are just a bit lost. As a family, we come together to hold each other and we talk to each other.
‘We can’t do that now, we are all in these different places and we can’t come together and look after each other.’
Due to coronavirus restrictions, only a small number of guests could attend Mrs Newell’s funeral.
The couple, who had three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, acted as foster carers for 36 years in Bradford, West Yorkshire
Their daughter Jude Greaves-Newell, 46, an advanced clinical A&E practitioner, has now spoken of her pain at not being able to visit her ill father (pictured with Mrs Newell on their wedding day)
Mrs Greaves-Newell added: ‘We can’t grieve properly, despite everybody’s best efforts to make sure you can, you can’t really if you can’t come together with your family and can’t look after each other.
‘You don’t realise how much you miss someone being able to put their arms around you.’
Mrs Greaves-Newell and her husband Vince will now take care of their severely disabled 17-year-old foster sister, who had been with her parents since she was just two.
She added: ‘They were great parents. I would not have been able to become a nurse without them.
‘They opened their home for lots and lots of people. They were just kind people. It is heartbreaking to lose them both so close together.
‘My mum always said she wished she had written all the children down that she fostered.
‘She lost count in the end, but they took in more than 100 children over the years.
‘They dedicated their whole lives to it. My dad worked for many years, but their main roles were as foster carers.’
Last year, they won an award at the Bradford Safeguarding Children’s Board’s Safeguarding Champions Awards.
Their testimonial and story, which brought some of those in attendance to tears, said: ‘They have looked after hundreds of children over the years and have treated each one of them as if they were their own.
‘Barbara and Allan provide a happy, warm and stable environment for the children they look after, and have acted as advocates where necessary.
‘They have been referred to as ‘delightful’ and ‘unassuming’ in the work they undertake. They aim to give the children the best childhood they can have.’
Mrs Greaves-Newell added: ‘We are sad, we are lost, but we also know that people are thinking about us.
‘We also know that people are really, really frustrated, like us, that they can’t be here.
‘We also know the hospital did everything they could.’
Even though they could not be with Mr Newell in his final hours, the family were able to Facetime him with help from staff on the ward and the palliative care team at the hospital after he took a turn for the worse.
In a poignant message, Mrs Greaves-Newell’s eight-year-old son Quinn paid his own tribute to the NHS workers who helped Allan, a former transport manager for a packaging firm.
He said: ‘We’re very grateful for what you did for grandad and we’re really proud you did all you could as he was a really nice man.
‘We thank that you had given him a nice death and he didn’t have to suffer. Thank you NHS.’
Mrs Greaves-Newell urged people to remember the work of frontline heroes during the crisis and not to not blame staff when restrictions are put in place.
She added: ‘They are going through hell too.
‘They are doing their best in a really hard situation – putting their own lives and families at risk.’
Mrs Greaves-Newell also urged people to pay attention to social distancing rules, adding: ‘They are doing it for a reason and it’s really important.’