Partner of one of the first people to die of Covid in Nottingham calling for resignations after Downing Street garden party

Kevin Whelan and Andrew Howe
By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

The grieving partner of one of the first people to die of Covid in Nottingham is calling for government resignations over a Downing Street garden party held during lockdown.

Kevin Whelan, 39, was not allowed in the ambulance or to hold ‘the love of his ‘life’s’ hand as he passed away before even arriving at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre.

Kevin’s partner, bus driver Andy Howe, 48, from Nuthall, was taken to hospital in March 2020 when he started to suffer from a high temperature and breathing difficulties.

Mr Howe worked for CT4N, the operating arm of Nottingham Community Transport, and drove the Medilink service which took NHS workers to hospital.

The pair had planned to marry and couldn’t wait to spend the rest of their lives together before Mr Howe was hit with the virus.

Mr Whelan recalls a masked ambulance crew arriving and not allowing him in to the vehicle as the country was under strict lockdown measures.

Later, Mr Whelan was also not allowed into the chapel of rest, meaning he feels “a constant lack of closure”.

He said he was ‘disgusted’ to hear that a ‘bring your own booze’ garden party took place in Downing Street in May 2020 while the UK was still under  strict lockdown.

Mr Whelan told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is still very raw. It is something I can’t get my head round because it happened so fast. I have not been able to organise a wake for Andy yet. I have still not said my goodbyes properly.”

Speaking about the garden party held in Downing Street, he said: “There was me and other people having to suffer – not being able to say goodbye to loved ones properly and they were having a knees up. They have made a mockery of everything we had to go through.

“It makes me angry. I think the whole lot of them should be sacked. Anyone else who broke the law was prosecuted. If we can be prosecuted, why can’t they?

“They think they are better than everyone else and they are able to break the rules that us as a country have to live by.

“I still maintain if I had got in that ambulance with him, he would have got to the hospital okay and fought through it.

“I can’t prove that because of his breathing difficulties with Covid. I think if I was there and kept him calm it would not have happened.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, January 12, Boris Johnson apologised for the garden party and said he knows “the rage” the public “feel with him and the Government he leads”.

He said he thought it was a work event and “in hindsight I should have sent everyone back inside”.

“Even if it could be said to fall technically within the guidance, there would be millions and millions of people who simply would not see it that way.  I offer my heartfelt apologies,” he added.

He asked for an enquiry into that day and several others to be completed so the full facts can be determined.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked when the Prime Minister would hand in his resignation.

He said: “His defence that he didn’t realise he was at a party is so ridiculous that it’s actually offensive to the British public.”

The event was first revealed earlier this week, when ITV reported an email had invited around 100 people to the drinks gathering – and about 30 had attended – including the Prime Minister.


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