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Father, 43, dies after being rushed to hospital with suspected coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 05:30 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:37 03 June 2020

John Chapman worked as a carer in Felixstowe for over a decade and dedicated many years of his life as the manager of Bluebird Care Home. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILY

John Chapman worked as a carer in Felixstowe for over a decade and dedicated many years of his life as the manager of Bluebird Care Home. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILY

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The former manager of a homecare service in Felixstowe, who dedicated years of his life to helping others, has died at just 43 years old after spending three weeks in hospital with suspected coronavirus.

Claire and John Chapman were together for 15 years and lived in Felixstowe. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILYClaire and John Chapman were together for 15 years and lived in Felixstowe. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILY

John Chapman worked as a carer for over a decade after struggling with tragedy and mental health early on in his life when his young son was badly hurt in a hit-and-run car accident.

He met his wife Claire in 2004, just after his son Steven was taken off life support at Addenbrooke’s Hospital where he was recovering.

Now 20 years old, Steven requires around the clock care and his older brother Ryan, 22, has profound autism.

“We got together in 2005 when John was off sick with depression,” Claire recalled. “He really struggled and could barely go out to the shops, he hated going outdoors.

John Chapman was an avid wildlife photographer and was involved in Springwatch at the Minsmere nature reserve. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILYJohn Chapman was an avid wildlife photographer and was involved in Springwatch at the Minsmere nature reserve. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILY

“The man he became is unrecognizable. After years of temporary jobs he found caring and from there he trained and got every certificate and qualification he could working at Brierfield care home in Trimley St Mary, before eventually becoming a manager at Bluebird Care in Felixstowe.

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“He did have medication, but he didn’t like it and told the doctors; ‘I don’t need medication Claire is all I need’.”

Over the years John became a dementia and Parkinson’s champion, attended local radio shows to discuss caring, and was always taking on extra shifts to help out.

Claire and John Chapman were together for 15 years and lived in Felixstowe. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILYClaire and John Chapman were together for 15 years and lived in Felixstowe. Picture: CHAPMAN FAMILY

His 53-year-old wife said it took forever to get anywhere as John would be recognised in the supermarket or street and spend hours talking to people whose relatives he had cared for or who knew him for his work.

Claire was shocked when the father-of-two had to be rushed to The Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge after feeling unwell one night in early April, and suffered several heart attacks in hospital.

His condition deteriorated quickly and three weeks later, on Tuesday April 21, Claire received a phone call with the heartbreaking news that there was nothing more the doctors could do for him, and he passed away just a few days before his birthday. His wife says he had tested positive for Covid-19.

“I couldn’t visit him the whole time and then they said there wouldn’t be enough time for me to get there even with the help of machines – I had to say goodbye to him on video,” she said.

“There was nothing wrong with him before, he was perfectly healthy, he gardened, played golf, took part in BBC Springwatch at Minsmere, did all the washing up and always had so much energy. 
“He loved life and there was so much left for him to do, there was so much more we were going to do together.”

While only 12 mourners could attend John’s funeral on Wednesday May 20, the streets were lined with more than 100 friends, family and colleagues who had turned up at 8.30am to say goodbye to the community hero on his journey to the ceremony.


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