THE family of a man who died from coronavirus have told of their heartbreak – and praised the “incredibly caring” York Hospital staff who battled to save his life.

Retired plumber and heating engineer David Clark, 79, of Huntington, died last Sunday. His daughter Julie said the family was shocked at how quickly the virus had taken his life. “My dad was fit and healthy and we hoped that his ‘strong constitution’ would have helped him, but it didn’t,” she said.

He and his partner Linda Smith went to Spain for a month on February 23 to escape the dreary UK weather and were caught up in the Spanish lockdown from March 13 and told to stay in their hotel room.

They flew back on March 16, and the family hoped all would be well, but they both became ill after their return. “At first we hoped they had flu but Dad’s condition deteriorated. He was taken to hospital on Friday and died on Sunday.

“We have nothing but praise for the staff on Ward 29, who worked so hard to save him. They were incredibly caring and we are grateful for the small mercy that he passed away in the local hospital being cared for by such kind people.”

She said Linda was still unwell and the family had been desperately worried but she now seemed to be beginning to recover slowly. “She is devastated she has lost him in such a cruel way. Losing someone in these circumstances is made so much more difficult by the fact we cannot be together as a family.”

Julie said her father, who had three children - herself, David and Stephanie - had been enjoying a great time in his life, and he and Linda were really happy together.

She said the family didn’t want him to be a ‘number on a daily news report,’ adding: “There’s a grieving family behind every statistic and we want others to understand the real toll of this horrendous virus and encourage others not to take any chances when keeping safe. We all loved him dearly and are heartbroken at his loss in this terrible way.” Julie said a small funeral for close family at York Crematorium on Wednesday would be followed by a celebration of his life later when circumstances allowed.