Grieving widow of Leeds man Jason Kelk - the UK's longest Covid in-patient - speaks of her heartache as city reaches grim milestone of 2,000 dead

The grieving widow of the UK’s longest Covid in-patient who died last year has said not a day goes by where she doesn’t think of him.

By Joanna Wardill
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 4:45 am

Sue Kelk, 64, of Seacroft, spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post of her continuing heartache as the city of Leeds reached the grim milestone of 2,000 Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Landmarks including Leeds Town Hall, Leeds Civic Hall and Leeds City Museum are being lit up every evening until Thursday in recognition of those who have lost their lives and the frontline workers whose tireless efforts have saved so many others.

The buildings will each be lit up in both blue, as a mark of respect for the city’s NHS and care staff, and yellow, the colour for grief awareness.

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Sue Kelk, from Seacroft, who lost her husband Jason, 49, in June 2021. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Sue lost her husband Jason, 49, in June 2021, when he decided to withdraw from treatment after spending the previous nearly 15 months in St James’ Hospital, having been admitted with Covid in March 2020.

Today, she told of her sadness at the city’s tragic milestone of 2,000 dead.

“Every one was a son or daughter”, she said, adding: “It will have been heartbreaking for the people that have lost someone and for the staff at the hospitals.”

She said: “Jay was only 49. I always thought I’d go before him - obviously he was 14-and-a-half years younger than me.

Jason and Sue Kelk, pictured together during one of Jason's trips outside St James' Hospital.

“I have been left behind and that’s hard.”

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Sue, a grandmother-of-10, said each of the 2,000 deaths will have left many more grief-stricken.

“It doesn’t only affect me, as his wife. It affected his friends, the rest of the family. It was a whole neighbourhood. He worked in a school (as an IT technician) and obviously the kids knew him and a lot of the parents. He was really popular.”

Jason Kelk pictured outside hospital in March 2021, with his granddaughter Felicity Wagner, then aged five. Picture: Simon Hulme

Sue, who had been with Jason for over 20 years, said: “I miss him. I’m lucky having family here and it’s lovely but it’s not the same. He has left a big hole. He was my soulmate. He was everything to me. There is stuff I want to talk to him about but I just can’t. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of something.”

She urged people to continue to take the virus seriously and take up the offers of a vaccine, which health leaders stress will help prevent the spread and protect people and their loved ones.

“It is still killing people,” she said. “Covid is still killing people. There are still people out there that won’t get jabbed.”

Sue also called for more support for those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19.

“There is no real help out there for people. It would be nice to have maybe a group or something where we can go and talk but there just doesn’t seem to be anything.

“We all went through it but we all went through it differently, I think.”

Work has recently begun on the transformation of the former South Leeds golf course, which will include a ‘Peoples Woodland.’Read more: Leeds residents pay tribute to UK's longest Covid patient Jason Kelk after tragic death

In partnership with Leeds Hospitals Charity, the woodland will be a space for reflection and peace in memorial of loved ones who lost their lives during the pandemic as well as a tribute to key workers.

Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This is a sombre milestone for the city which should prompt us all to pause and reflect on the unimaginable toll the past two years have taken on those who have lost family members, loved ones and friends.

“It is also an opportunity for us to be proud of the unity and compassion Leeds has shown throughout the darkest days of pandemic and to look towards the days to come with hope and optimism that having endured so much together, we can be closer and stronger than ever.”

For information on walk-in clinics and where to grab a jab, visit: https://www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/walk-in-clinicsFor the latest guidance on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit: Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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