Funeral takes place for three members of same family who died from coronavirus

Video report by ITV Wales reporter, Ellie Pitt

The funeral of three members from the same family who died with coronavirus within a week of each other has taken place in their home town.

Gladys Lewis, 74, from Pentre, Rhondda, died early on October 29, at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Her son, Dean, a 44-year-old father of three, died at home the next day.

Gladys and her sons Darren and Dean both died after contracting Covid-19

Mrs Lewis' younger son Darren, 42, also died a few days later on November 2. All of the deaths were confirmed to be Covid-19 related.

The coffins of Gladys, Dean and Darren Lewis the evening before their funeral service at St Peter's Church in Pentre Credit: PA

Members of the Lewis family described how coronavirus had “just ripped through the family”, with 13 of them testing positive for the virus.

Darren, who had Down’s syndrome, had not left the house since February apart from to attend hospital appointments, and Gladys, who had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, had also been shielding.

Their deaths have been described as "the stuff of nightmares".

Within hours of the news that Gladys and Dean had passed, friends of the family Alison Higgins and Jemma Hopkins set up a fundraising page to help Gladys' husband David, 81, and the rest of the family.

Three hearses were seen carrying the family members. Credit: ITV Wales

Fundraiser Alison, from Treorchy, said: "As one of Debbie's friends, there was no question that they needed help, financially and emotionally from our community.

"This is the stuff of nightmares, it's incomprehensible whats happened. Knowing how much fundraising the family have done over the years, it was only right we came together for them."

The funerals all took place on Thursday morning at St Peter's Parish Church in Pentre.

The coffins were brought in the night before where the family were able to visit to say goodbye.

Mourners gather outside church during the funeral Credit: PA

“We wanted them together so they were in each other’s funerals,” said Debbie Mountjoy, Darren's sister.

After the service, the hearses carrying the three coffins drove through Pentre and were applauded by dozens of mourners outside the church.

Mr Lewis described his wife Gladys as “a wonderful woman” who was a devoted mother, grandmother-of-13 and great-grandmother-of-four.Father Haydn England-Simon, who led the service, told the family: "You are right when you say that no-one should ever go through what you have been going through."

The family called on people to "play their part" to fight coronavirus and follow the rules to limit its spread.

Writing in the order of service, the family said: "As a family, we cannot express how much your love, messages and support mean to us all.

"We would like to say thank-you to each and every one of you. Special thanks to Father Haydn and to everyone who has supported the family during this difficult time."

People lined the streets and applauded as the three coffins drove through Pentre. Credit: PA

Father Haydn read eulogies to Mrs Lewis and her two sons, describing them as much-loved members of the family as well as the local community.

Mrs Lewis had been married to husband David, 81, for 44 years after meeting him in Blackpool.

They "absolutely adored" each other and were keen dancers, the family said in the eulogy.

The grandmother-of-13 and great-grandmother-of-four would "fight the world and win to make sure her children and grandchildren had what they needed and deserved".

Father Haydn read: "Gladys absolutely idolised her children, she protected Darren his entire life and loved Dean and Debbie no end."

Mrs Lewis was described as a proud grandmother and great-grandmother, who knitted clothes for the "little ones" and kept her own copy of their birth certificates in her memory box.

Floral tributes to Gladys Lewis after her two sons all died of Covid-19 within five days of each other. Credit: PA

Father-of-three Dean Lewis met wife Claire, 44, at school and they began dating in 1991.

He had a close relationship with their sons Danny, Declan and Darian, sharing his love of Liverpool Football Club and gaming with them.

Father Haydn read: "Dean had a heart of gold, very much like his mother, and would do anything for anyone.

"Dean will be missed by all who knew him."

Darren Lewis, who had Down's Syndrome, was also a keen football fan and would watch Wales and Cardiff City play with his nephews.

He supported Arsenal Football Club and "relished every match", his family said in his eulogy.

They said he loved being part of family occasions and enjoyed being the centre of attention.

"It was Darren's fighting spirit that drew people to him and made him who he was - the strong, determined character that was loved by so many," Father Haydn read.

During the funeral, the hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful was played, as well as Sir Cliff Richard's The Minute You're Gone.

Queen's Friends Will Be Friends was played as each coffin was brought out of the church and placed into a hearse.

The coffin of Gladys Lewis carried from church Credit: PA

Mrs Lewis developed symptoms of the virus around a week before her death and was admitted to hospital on October 25.

Dean Lewis tested positive after his mother was admitted to hospital. He died on October 30.

Darren Lewis was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital and was later transferred to the intensive care unit, where he died on November 2.

The family were unable to be with Darren before his death, due to them testing positive for Covid-19 and having to self-isolate.