Widower of nurse who died of Covid hails bid for national memorial

Such comfort and solace: Widower of nurse who died of Covid days after giving birth hails bid for national memorial at St Paul’s

  • NHS nurse Mary Agyapong, 28, died from coronavirus on Easter Sunday last year
  • She left behind her two young children – days-old baby Mary and toddler son AJ
  • Her NHS worker father Stephen, 56, also died from Covid-19 just days before her 
  • Her widower says memorial plan will bring his children ‘such comfort and solace’

It was a tragedy that shocked the nation even at the height of the Covid pandemic – a 28-year-old nurse who died just days after giving birth to her baby girl.

Now, 13 months on, the heartbroken widower of Mary Agyapong is embracing the opportunity to honour the NHS worker with the Remember Me memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Miss Agyapong died from the virus on Easter Sunday last year at the height of the first wave, leaving behind her two young children – days-old baby Mary and toddler son AJ.

Her widower, Ernest Boateng, says the plans for the lasting tribute to coronavirus victims will bring his children ‘much comfort and solace’ as they are forced to grow up without their mother. 

It was a tragedy that shocked the nation even at the height of the Covid pandemic – a 28-year-old nurse who died just days after giving birth to her baby girl

Wholeheartedly backing the Daily Mail’s drive to raise funds for the project, the trainee barrister said: ‘I highly commend St Paul’s for coming forward with this idea and the Daily Mail for supporting it. It is simply indispensable.’

The 31-year-old added: ‘We are one people, irrespective of race, gender or religion… so it is essential to do this together.

‘These days, weeks, months and past year have been the most difficult part of my life – as well as the lives of so many others.

‘We are fighting a common enemy – Covid-19 – which has taken away our loved ones and the people we so cherished.

‘It is very essential that we come together as a United Kingdom to celebrate those on the frontlines who have paid the ultimate price and to remember all loved ones who have died.’

The heartbroken widower of Mary Agyapong is embracing the opportunity to honour the NHS worker with the Remember Me memorial at St Paul’s Cathedral

Miss Agyapong was 35 weeks pregnant when she fell ill with the virus. She died on April 12 at Luton and Dunstable Hospital just five days after giving birth by emergency Caesarean section.

She had worked at the same hospital near her family home in Luton until mid-March, well into her third trimester, as coronavirus cases were rising across the country. 

In a cruel twist her father Stephen, 56, an NHS healthcare assistant, also died from Covid-19 just days before her, but she never came to know of his death. They were buried side by side in a cemetery in Northampton.

Mr Boateng said: ‘This permanent memorial will be a significant and physical tribute to honour people lost like Mary and her father.

‘And it will be a place for my children to remember their mother and their grandfather.’ 

He said the ‘strong, capable, vibrant’ nurse had been so excited to have a girl but never got to meet or hold the baby he named Mary in her memory.

Mr Boateng plans to add an entry for Miss Agyapong to the virtual book of remembrance which will be displayed on special video screens within a chapel at the cathedral. A depiction of the memorial is seen above 

Mr Boateng – who like his wife is originally from Ghana – said even though the two never met, baby Mary already had her mother’s bubbly and playful personality. 

He is juggling his legal training with being a single father to the children. 

He said they had recently celebrated Mary’s first birthday – a bittersweet milestone for the family. And he described how three-year-old son AJ asks for his mother daily.

He said: ‘My little girl never got to meet her mother, but my son still has memories of her. He asks after her every day. He is almost four and he is feeling that hole that she has left in our lives.’

Mr Boateng plans to add an entry for Miss Agyapong to the virtual book of remembrance which will be displayed on special video screens within a chapel at the cathedral.

The memorial will also feature a grand portico which will have the words ‘Remember Me’ engraved in several languages. Mr Boateng added that he ‘would love’ to join thousands of Mail readers by donating and hopes to treasure the special Remember Me candle sent by the paper as a thank you.

Fewer than 2,000 of the limited edition keepsakes – which can be claimed by those donating £25 or more – are still available. The widower’s support comes as donations continue flooding in for the drive, taking the total raised for the £2.3million project to more than £1.6million.

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