Coronavirus: Tributes paid to west Belfast couple who died hours apart

Arty and Isobel Vallely who both died from coronavirus
Connla Young

A WEST Belfast couple who died hours apart from after contracting Covid-19 have been described as “amazing parents” by their family.

Christopher Vallely (79) , who was known as Arty, and his wife Isobel (77), died within 12 hours of each in the same room at the Mater Hospital in Belfast at the weekend.

The couple, who were married 53 years on Friday, both had underlying health conditions.

The deaths of the pensioners, who lived at Iris Mews close to the Falls Road, have caused widespread shock.

The loving couple, who had three children, lived in England for several decades before returning to their native Belfast in 2003.

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Their heartbroken daughter Fiona told how she returned from abroad six months ago to look after her mother after she suffered a stroke, while her father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer two months ago.

Ms Vallely revealed that her father was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital ten days ago after becoming weak where he was placed in isolation and tested positive for Covid-19 before being transferred to the Mater Hospital in north Belfast.

Her mother, who also tested positive for the virus, was taken directly to the Mater after becoming ill last Thursday and died on Saturday night.

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Mr Vallely was later transferred into his wife's room where he too lost his fight for life.

Ms Vallely, who has two brothers Mark and Chris, paid a heartfelt tribute to both her parents last night.

“They were amazing parents," she said.

“And they would have done anything for anybody.

“They were fantastic people and they did not deserve to go this way."

She said the death of her parents has left the family completely stunned.

“Both had underlying health issues but it's a shock to lose both your parents,” she said.

“The ironic thing is they both died in the same room.”

Hospital staff allowed them to put on protective clothing, including masks, in order to say goodbye to both parents in the hours before they died.

She praised staff at the hospital and believes her parents received good care.

Under new rules introduced by the Catholic diocese in Down and Connor the couple will be taken directly to burial and will not have a Requiem Mass until later.

“It's hard that we can't celebrate their life and have a funeral,” said MsVallely.

She also urged members of the public to follow public health guidelines.

“We have seen first hand what this can do,” she said.

“Everybody has to stay in and listen to the guidelines and take this seriously.”

St Paul's parish priest Fr Tony Devlin said: “They were a lovely wee couple and lived their lives to look after each other.

“They loved their family and their family loved them and they were very close knit.”

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