Class of Covid: The children and young people facing grief and sickness in a challenging year of lockdown

Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

As lockdown eases, life for many people starts to get back to a semblance of normality.

But for some children and young people, the last year has changed them irrevocably.

ITV News has revisited two families, as part of its Class of Covid series, facing the challenge of sickness and loss of their loved ones.

Olivia and Lucia Di Marco, from Barwell in Leicestershire, were faced with the grief of their beloved "Pops" Neil Robertson.

"He was very brave and he was always there for you," Olivia, 12, said. "If I got scared, he held my hand and I felt safe."

He died of Covid in Spring last year, aged just 62.

"The night he went into hospital I prayed, hoping that he’d be all right," Olivia said. "But obviously that didn’t help."

A year on, the family visited his grave for a small memorial service to say goodbye to their grandfather who enjoyed taking them to football matches.

The previous year, their grief was so difficult they could not face his funeral.

Olivia said tearfully: "It was really hard actually. You were trying to play outside but you just couldn't do it."

Lucia, eight, said the best memory she had of her grandfather was when he took them to a Leicester City football match - where their team won 2-0.

"On my iPad, I text him to say how are you," she said. "He said he was OK. That was the last text he ever sent me."

There are others in our Class of Covid who have come to know the fine line between life and death.

The Conteh family from Bermondsey, south east London, endured the agony of their Dad, Sama, being in a coma for 61 days after catching coronavirus on March 29 last year.

"It's been very difficult because my dad got the virus," Samarah, eight, said.

"And not a lot of people had made it out alive," her sister Kaleisha, 11, added. "I was really, really scared."

And owing to Covid regulations in the hospital, the family had to send him video messages rather than be by his side.

In one of the messages, five-year-old Majidah begged: "We really love you daddy. And we all want you to come home."

"The worst was not knowing whether he would come out alive," Kaleisha said.

"I didn't know how I would cope without him," Samarah added.

But against the odds, their dad pulled through and the family are now reunited.

Despite their ordeals however, both families have found a resilience and a new appreciation of their family.

"I won’t take my family for granted now," Olivia said. "Whatever I do I will probably think more of him than I did before."

"But probably I am stronger than I thought I was and I can go through more than I thought I could and still be OK," she added.

Reflecting on the past year, Kaleisha said she felt she had grown up a lot.

"But that's a good and a sad thing," she admitted.