Brainy Speak

Stuff that matters

The much-loved husband from the UK’s first couple with Down’s Syndrome to marry has died from Covid – just two weeks after contracting the virus.

Tommy Pilling, 62, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, lost his battle with coronavirus on January 1.

He leaves behind a doting wife Maryanne, 49, who says she is “completely lost” without her love.

Her devastated sister and carer has spoken today to pay her respects to Tommy – who was “one of a kind”.

Tommy had been in hospital since early December with a chest infection but it’s thought he contracted the virus while there, having previously shielding for 10 months.

Lindi Newman, 33, said: “We are all complete and utter shock.

“Tommy will stay in my heart forever.

“I am so thankful my mum Linda Martin, 70, unofficially adopted him 30 years ago and made him apart of our family.

“Maryanne and Tommy had never been apart for more than a few hours during all those years.

“She doesn’t remember a life before Tommy.

“The day she met him, she had the biggest smile on her face and she couldn’t stop talking about him.

“She is absolutely devastated and in shock.

“One minute, she is hysterical and the next she is fine, then she cries again.

“It is so hard for all of us.”

Sadly, the couple were separated for the very first time on December 10 as Tommy was hospitalised with a chest infection.

Tommy, who was shielding for 10 months, contracted coronavirus in hospital which sadly led to pneumonia.

He passed away at 1.40am on New Year’s day – two weeks after testing positive.

Lindi said: “It is so cruel that he caught the virus in the hospital.

“He had no choice but to go in for treatment.

“I will cherish thousands of memories I have with Tommy, from cinema trips to zoo visits.

“He would always thank me for taking them out for the day and compliment me – even when I looked horrendous.

“He was a true gentleman.

“He told Maryanne and I that he loved us daily.

“Marriage made him my brother-in-law but love made him my brother.”

Maryanne and Tommy lived independently since tying the knot in 1995.

She had moved next door with her mum for daily support while Tommy, who also had dementia, was in hospital.

He spent one month in three different hospitals – Basildon hospital, Southend and Thurrock community hospital.

He was diagnosed with coronavirus on December 17.

The family praised the NHS staff who nursed Tommy.

Linda said: “Tommy has left a vast hole in our lives that nobody will ever fill.

“I considered him as my son and I’ve never regretted a single moment of the three decades he was in my care.

“He brought us all so much love and job. I will always be thankful for the laughter and fun he brought to our lives.

“I cannot thank the staff enough, their care and compassion was outstanding – especially during these dreadful times.

“They were all rushed off their feet but still made time to inform me daily regarding his condition.

“They also commented on what a beautiful person he was.

“He was last at Basildon hospital with MacMillan nurses by his side – they were also amazing.”