Alice makes plea to the public after grandfather’s death

11th April

The devastated granddaughter of a 77-year old man who died recently of coronavirus says she is determined to make more people aware of the seriousness of the disease following her loss.

Alice Tripp’s grandfather Alan Varney, who lived in Brighton, was self isolating and healthy when he had a fall at his home which resulted in him being taken to hospital by ambulance and passing away just six days later.

The 23-year-old from Herstmonceux, one of nine grandchildren, says no-one is sure how he caught the disease.

Alan Varney

“He was self isolating and then he had a fall and had to go to hospital. Somehow he ended up with coronavirus. My grandad was a real survivor – he has overcome a blood clotting disease, MRSA, multiple strokes and a heart attack in the past.

“We were really close and my brother Harry and I spent a lot of time with him when we were younger when he used to pick us up from school,” Alice explained.

Alan and his wife Marian ran the Bluebird Society charity shop in Brighton that raises funds for people for disabilities. He was a fit man, according to Alice, and went swimming every Sunday.

Originally from Croydon, Alan was very popular and, says Alice, if the family had been able to hold a normal funeral some 200 people would have attended. However, because of social distancing a maximum of 10 people is allowed. The family will, however, hold a memorial service for Alan later in the year.

Alice and her brother Harry want to use their grandad’s death to make people understand why they need to take the disease seriously and stay at home.

She says: “Go and do the weekly shop if you need to, but only go out if it’s a necessity. I am still seeing people going out in groups of eight or nine people. At the start I didn’t take the warnings seriously – unless it happens to you or a member of your family you don’t listen. But I can tell you that it’s a horrible thing to go through. A lot of young people aren’t social distancing and I’ve also seen elderly people sitting on a bench together – they are not just putting themselves at risk but other people too.”

Harry, 19, took to social media after he learned his grandfather had been taken into hospital and recorded two heart-wrenching videos while he was still alive. The last video was bravely recorded the morning of his grandfather’s death with a plea to people to follow the lockdown rules. The videos have had more than 30,000 views.

“It’s still frustrating that people aren’t following the rules. I’ve just lost one of the closest people in my life and the virus has left a massive whole in my life. He was the most amazing guy. I am heartbroken. I am hoping some young people will see the pain and agony I have gone through this week and will understand and stay in,” said Harry.

Alice with her grandfather Alan and brother Harry