KAREN Burnett received a text message from her mother who was being treated in hospital telling her she had tested positive for covid.

It contained the words no relative would want to read and came after the 76-year-old had spent weeks in hospital after a fall and was the beginning of a heart-breaking time.

Mrs Burnett, 54, who herself had been shielding for months, packed a bag and went to be with her mum, Catherine Bennett, in Wishaw General Hospital, Lanarkshire.

“I sat by her bed for 14 nights until she passed away,” said the grieving grandmother. “I hadn’t been able to see her since she was taken into hospital at the end of September after falling down the stairs at home. When mum said she had covid nothing would stop me from being with her.”

The Herald: Catherine Bennett died from covid on December 17, 2020Catherine Bennett died from covid on December 17, 2020

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Mrs Burnett, who has Crohn’s Disease and rheumatoid arthritis, even stopped taking her immunosuppressant medication she had been taking in order to have the strength to be with her mum.

“I remember speaking to mum on the phone and she was coughing and I wanted her it to be checked out. Mum was insisting it was the dry air in the hospital and didn’t want to make a fuss, but I didn’t like the sound of it.

“She had been moved to a covid ward and by told me on December 3 that her stats were low and she was being moved to a side room so I just went to be with her. I hadn’t seen her for months and I had to be with her. Mum loved her music and her room was calm and peaceful with her favourites Daniel O’Donnell, Charlie Landsborough and country and folk singer Mary Duff playing on Spotify in the background.”

The great-grandmother, who was a Commonwealth Games relay torch bearer in 2014 due to her role as president of Hamilton Sports Council, was such a fan of the artists and over the years of attending concerts she got to know them.

The Herald: Artist Alec Finlay is leading a series of workshopsArtist Alec Finlay is leading a series of workshops (Image: free)

“When mum was ill they all called with Daniel O’Donnell singing down the phone to her. Charlie Landsborough called her most nights and I heard from Mary Duff as well. It was just so she could hear their voice. I wanted to be able to make her as comfortable as I would have done if I’d been able to get her home,” added Mrs Burnett.

“During my time in the hospital, I wore a masks and apron, but never left the room. I remember walking out of the hospital when she died on December 17 last year and no one even asked me to take a covid test.”

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The great-grandmother of five had been admitted to hospital to undergo tests after a fall. She suffered a broken back and test results later showed she had bone cancer which had also spread to her liver.

Mrs Burnett added: “Doctors wanted to find out the primary source of the cancer and she was taken to the Beatson and back, Monklands and from ward to ward at Wishaw. All that time we couldn’t get in to see her.

“I had a call from the ward around the end of November telling me that the ward had a covid outbreak but that it wasn’t near where she was. It wasn’t long before she contracted it as well and I received the news by text.”

Her voice breaking with emotion, Mrs Burnett told how they said their final farewells to the beloved gran and great-gran on Christmas Eve.

“It was 4pm that afternoon 20 of us gathered for mum’s cremation such were the restrictions at the time. We had to make some difficult decisions at the time. My daughter was expecting and I knew my mum wouldn’t have wanted her to be put at risk, so she didn’t attend. We had to sit there, breaking our hearts, without being able to put our arms around one another. I think I’ve just been on autopilot since then.”

While eight months have passed, Mrs Burnett says it feels like yesterday that she lost her mum and feels it is important that families like hers have somewhere to remember loved ones by. She is supportive of The Herald’s campaign to create a memorial to Scots lost to covid and for anyone affected by the pandemic to have a place to reflect and remember. More than £60,000 has been raised towards the memorial which will be located in the grounds of Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park after Glasgow City Council generously offered to host the site.

Mrs Burnett added: “I just want somewhere I can go to sit and think. Somewhere I can walk round with the grandchildren.”

As part of the engagement phase our artist Alec Finlay is reaching out through the theme of I remember with people being encouraged to submit a single sentence which can capture the thoughts and feelings throughout the pandemic. Next week a private online workshop is being held for bereaved families with Mr Finlay and his colleagues Ken Cockburn and Lucy Richards.

You can sign up for virtual open events being held next month and an I remember open day will be held in Pollok Country Park on Saturday, September 11.

To sign up for an I Remember workshop go here.

To submit an I Remember, email covidmemorial@theherald.co.uk.To donate to the campaign at gofundme.com/ herald-garden-of-remembrance. You can also send donations via post to The Herald Garden of Remembrance Campaign, Herald & Times, 125 Fullarton Drive, Glasgow, G32 8FG.