WHEN Mark Walsworth and his partner Sam Swales decided to make a life together they left their north of England roots behind and set up home in Scotland.

They were living in Aberdeen with Sam’s two children and were a complete family unit who lived, laughed and spent happy times together.

However just a few months later Mr Walsworth found himself feeling unwell at the beginning of lockdown. He tested positive for coronavirus and lost his fight for life in hospital just a few short weeks later.

It is lives of people like Mr Walsworth and the families they leave behind that we want to remember through our memorial garden campaign and vision to create a place which can offer peace and solace.

Read more: Kiltwalk joins forces with Herald memorial garden campaign for Covid victims

The aim of The Herald’s garden of remembrance campaign is to serve as a fitting tribute to every person in Scotland who has died from the virus and to give loved ones a place to reflect and grieve.

And this weekend a Herald team will be taking part in the Virtual Kiltwalk to raise money for the project with the aim of walking or jogging 50kms. Every penny we raise will be topped up by 50% from entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter through The Hunter Foundation.

Six months ago oil and gas industry engineer Mr Walsworth had been working every day when lockdown began as he was classed as an essential worker. His partner Sam Swales, a health visitor, also continued her work and her two children were in key worker care.

In late March Mr Walsworth complained of feeling unwell, but didn’t get tested straight away. It wasn’t until his step son Leon, eight, was showing symptoms and tested positive for Covid-19 that they realised Mr Walsworth may have it as well.

“I remember being on the phone to medics about my son and Mark was at the top of the stairs, but he didn’t have the strength to come down,” said Ms Swales. “I looked at him and I just knew he had it as well. The advice was to treat him at home, but he was getting worse and was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

“I think we had all had it. I had been feeling a bit unwell and my daughter Millie, 13, who is never ill, had been off her food, was clammy and vomited overnight, so we were all isolating.”

HeraldScotland: Mark Walsworth and patner Sam Swales. Sam said her goodbyes over an ipad.Mark Walsworth and patner Sam Swales. Sam said her goodbyes over an ipad.

Read more: Edith Bowman lends her support to The Herald’s plans for memorial garden to Covid victims

There had been text messages from Mr Walsworth when he was initially admitted to hospital, but then his condition worsened.

"He had been transferred to ICU and I think we knew things were getting bad. He wasn’t waking up and his kidneys had failed and he had arrested," added Ms Swales.

"Things were bad and I had been trying to get to see him, but I couldn’t. The hospital said they would ring me to try to get me some Facetime with him within the hour. They ran back within 20 minutes and I knew it was bad. I could hear them trying to resuscitate him.

"I saw him on Facetime and I just said goodbye to him on an iPad. I had 20 minutes with him before he passed away and then 10 minutes with him after he had died. After that I took him home to England where he was cremated and we could only have a small number of people including his three sons. Then I came back to Scotland without him.”

Although Mr Walsworth was type 2 diabetic, he was a fit and healthy 49-year-old and was working full time.

“Mark didn’t have any other health problems yet he deteriorated so fast,” added Ms Swales. “We kept hearing the virus was affecting older people and people with serious underlying health conditions, but Mark had been absolutely fine before this.

“He was being treated at home initially and then when I mentioned to a doctor that he previously had swine flu they took him straight into A and E. I was able to speak to him then and he sent my a couple of texts, but then he went into ICU. He died on April 18.”

Ms Swales had enjoyed time with her family for her birthday on March 11 and her parents had travelled to Aberdeen to celebrate with her. And she does feel that the response to the virus threat was naïve, given what was happening in the likes of Italy and other parts of the world, where the virus was spreading.

“I do wonder if Mark could have been saved from this if lockdown had been earlier. It is nearly six months now and I think it is only just starting to hit me. It is hard me, for the children, for his family. I can only let a little bit of grief in at a time and then I have to stop as I don’t have the luxury of falling apart. If I get through this without losing another person I love then that will something.

"When I think I Mark I think of how brave he was. He lived and worked in the town he was born and yet he left to start a new life with me and the children. He was just amazing and everything a partner should be – we were a family.

"Mark would have been 50 in November and I still feel as if we should recognise it in some way and not let it go by. My children couldn’t attend the funeral and I think they need something way to remember him."

Ms Swales, 46, was heartened to learn of the memorial garden plans in Glasgow. We have been offered a place in the grounds of Pollok Country Park by Glasgow City Council leaders for the site of the memorial. A fund set up through GoFundMe has raised more than £22,000 towards its £50,000 target.

Ms Swales said: “I think we have to recognise that people have been lost and I think it is a lovely idea to have a memorial.”

To donate to our Virtual Kiltwalk challenge visit here.

To sign up to the Kiltwalk visit here.

To donate go to: gofundme.com/herald-garden-of-remembrance. Donations can be posted to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow G32 8FG. With cheques made payable to The Herald. If you would like to help, send an email to: memorialgarden@theherald.co.uk