Daughters of Sheffield's first coronavirus victim plan ‘virtual funeral’ for family and friends

The devastated daughters of the first coronavirus victim to die in Sheffield are planning a virtual funeral to allow friends and relatives to say a final farewell.

Monday, 23rd March 2020, 1:50 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd March 2020, 2:16 pm

Leonard Gibson, aged 78 and from Oughtibridge, died in the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield on St Patrick’s Day after testing positive for Covid-19.

The dad-of-two, who had four grandchildren and was originally from Ireland, suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and his family is warning that health conditions often mask the symptoms of coronavirus.

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Leonard Gibson was the first patient with coronavirus to die in Sheffield

His daughters Lisa Broughton, 50 and Michelle Lenton, 51, are now making plans for a virtual funeral service because of the need for social distancing to help prevent the spread of the virus.

A date for the service has not yet been set and because Leonard was Sheffield’s first coronavirus casualty, how his funeral will be conducted could establish a protocol for others to follow.

Lisa, from Catcliffe, said because of her family self-isolating, her dad’s death certificate can only be collected on Monday.

“It is like we are in limbo but until we get the death certificate we cannot plan anything. All we know is that we want some way of broadcasting the funeral to friends and family who cannot attend, especially those in Ireland,” she said.

“My dad was the life and soul of the party, he loved being at the centre of attention and deserves a big send-off, but we will just have to do it differently and make sure as many people as possible can watch it virtually rather than in person.”

Lisa said she is concerned at the rising death toll in the UK, with three deaths in Sheffield now confirmed.

She said: “It is really frightening and the saying that ‘lightening doesn’t strike twice’ does not feel like it applies any more.

“I worry that more and more of us are going to know people affected by this and that it won’t just be one person, it could be multiple.

“I just want people to be sensible now and take this seriously and to do all they can to stay safe and to protect others too.”