Resident's fury over No 10 party after father with dementia died of Covid feeling 'abandoned'
- Credit: Vivienne Maunder
An Ipswich resident said finding out about the Downing Street Christmas party revelation felt like being "kicked in the stomach", after the Covid-19 rules meant she wasn't able to see her father for weeks before he died.
Vivienne Maunder's father, Ralph Riley, died at the end of April 2020 after contracting Covid-19 in a care home, though none of her family had been able to visit him since February.
She suspected that her father believed they "had abandoned him" as his understanding of the situation due to his dementia was limited.
Ralph was born in Leeds in 1928 and moved to Ipswich in his early 40s working for the company that eventually became AXA before retiring in his 60s.
He was widowed not long afterwards, living on Woodbridge Road East while being supported by Vivienne and her brother and sister.
Ralph reached 90 in September 2018, even taking a trip to France to an area where his own father had fought in the First World War.
Though it became apparent that his health was in decline at that stage, he was diagnosed with dementia, eventually going into care at The Willows care home.
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When the pandemic hit, care homes across the country decided to not allow visitors.
Vivienne said the care home was brilliant and told them quickly when he caught Covid which was on a Monday. Ralph died four days later on Friday.
Vivienne said: "We decided that it probably wasn't even worth going appearing through the windows because we thought he would be so confused that it would disturb and distress him."
For the funeral 15 people attended including Vivienne's daughter, who drove up from London, but didn't sit with them and had to attend the wake over Zoom while sat on a park bench.
Which is why finding out about the Christmas party at Downing Street really impacted her.
She said: "When I saw that video I think the tension had just built up, we haven't had the opportunity to grieve for my father even now, I can honestly say I just burst into tears.
"Ours is not a massively tragic story, my father was 90. He hadn't been vaccinated because he hadn't had the opportunity by then.
"It was tears for everybody else. I just felt we were being laughed at."
It made her feel sick to think that that people "have such a cavalier attitude to what other people have suffered or sacrificed".