Loving couple from 'a fairytale romance' die four days apart with coronavirus

Their relationship has been described as a 'fairytale romance' Credit: BPM Media

A devoted Worcestershire couple who had been married for 47 years both died from Covid within four days of each other.

Sue Shaikh died of the virus in hospital, and then a few days later her husband Basim Shaikh contracted it and died at their home.

Their children had not told Basim his wife had died - but said he "just knew" and "just gave up".

Sue, aged 75, and Basim, 76, had lived in Barnt Green all of their married lives but moved to London five years ago to be nearer their two children and three grandchildren.

Their daughter, Caroline, aged 43, said her mum died in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on December 29, and her 76-year-old dad died at their flat in Kensington on January 2.

Caroline said: "I do think my dad knew my mum had died and just gave up.

"In a way, it's a blessing they died within days of each other because I cannot imagine how my mum would have coped without the love of her life.

"They were inseparable, two peas in a pod, who wouldn't have been able to live without the other one," she said.

Basim, who came from Iraq, fled the country when he was a teenager to escape religious persecution because he and his nine siblings came from a well known Catholic family. 

He met Sue when he was doing a Phd in mechanical engineering at Birmingham University where she was a secretary.

Caroline said her mum went into hospital in London just before Christmas after contracting Covid and died a week later.

Her dad was at home and because he had a terminal brain tumour hadn't been told about his wife's death.

Sue and Basim with their children. Credit: BPM Media

"My parents had been really careful and hadn't left the house for four months - apart from hospital visits for my dad because of his brain tumour," she said.

"We honestly thought mum would pull through, but in the end because she had Type 2 diabetes, Covid got her and she passed away after a week.

"Because my dad was very ill we decided not to tell him straight away that she'd died, but he somehow knew she'd gone.

"He said to us 'she's gone hasn't she?' and then a few days later passed away himself.

"We didn't even know he had Covid until the last two days when he developed a cough and then it just took over really quickly and he was gone."

Caroline said her dad had been diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumour last May and had been told he wouldn't survive beyond 2021.

Because of his condition, the couple had been careful and hadn't left their flat for four months. 

It's thought they contracted Covid either through a carer bringing it into the home, or when he had to go to A&E for a procedure just before Christmas.

"Because I'd had Covid myself in November, I was able to spend the last three days of my dad's life by his bedside, talking to him and reminiscing about his life."

She said her parents' life had been a real life fairy tale romance.

Despite both being engaged to other people when they met at Birmingham University, they fell in love, broke off their engagements and within a year were married to each other.

"Back in those days, my dad - this little Omar Sharif figure - and my blonde mum stuck out like sore thumbs as a couple because then, mixed marriages such as theirs were unusual, especially in a place like Barnt Green," she said.

She said they had been "inundated" with messages and cards of condolences from people in Barnt Green.