THE much-loved husband from Britain's first married couple with Down's Syndrome has died from Covid.
Tommy Pilling, 62, from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, lost his battle to coronavirus, leaving behind his wife Maryanne, 49, who says she is "completely lost" without her love.
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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 shielded 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."
Tommy contracted coronavirus, which sadly led to pneumonia, and he died on January 1 – 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.
But she had moved next door with her mum for daily support whilst 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 praise the NHS staff who nursed Tommy.
Linda said: "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."
Yesterday, the coronavirus death toll surpassed the grim total of 75,000 – after 454 fatalities were recorded in Britain.
It was also the sixth day in a row that the Covid infection figure broke 50,000, bringing the total number of positive tests in Britain to 2,654,779.
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