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'It's real, it's serious': Nephew's coronavirus warning after death of former Walsall councillor

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | Coronavirus | Published:

The heartbroken nephew of a former Walsall councillor has urged people to take the threat of coronavirus seriously following her untimely death.

Former Walsall councillor Stephanie Peart, who was found dead at home on Saturday. PIC: Alex Peart

Stephanie Peart had been self-isolating at her home in Blakenall when she was found dead on Saturday by her brother Chris, who had gone to drop off some essentials for her.

Her nephew Alex said that although she had not been tested for Covid-19, his aunt had the symptoms including a fever, tightness of the chest and a severe cough.

He added 60-year-old Ms Peart struggled to speak as she had not got the breath or was coughing so much.

In an emotional Facebook post, Mr Peart – who runs children’s ghost-writing company The Stardust Experience – described her as a “second mom”.

He said his family, including his mother Vanessa and uncle Chris, were devastated by her death.

And he warned people that the threat of coronavirus was very real and added that Ms Peart had no underlying health problems before her death.

'The kindest woman I've met'

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He said: “She was actually like my second mom. She brought me up as a child as much as my mom did.

“She was the most vibrant, beautiful and wonderful souls that you could ever meet.

“She caught the Covid-19 virus and was self-isolating. My uncle (her brother) was dropping some stuff off for her but she didn’t answer the door.

“She had fallen asleep and unfortunately, didn’t wake up. There were only four Pearts left; me, mom, my uncle Chris and Steph. Now there are three. We are all beyond devastated.

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“She was truly the kindest woman I’ve ever met. People say these things when people pass away, but it’s the absolute truth.

“Steph died of Covid-19, but:

  • She had no underlying medical conditions.
  • She was healthy.
  • She was only 60 years old (and looked amazing for her age).
  • She was NOT what you would call a person in the ‘vulnerable’ category.
  • She was healthy, vibrant and not in anyway ‘at risk’.

“I, myself, was under the illusion that it was really just ‘vulnerable’ people that were truly at risk; after all, that’s the primary news we keep hearing.

“When you hear about ‘vulnerable’ people, you think of frail old dears with a multitude of ailments. People who’ve had a long life with 40 medicines to take each morning.

“You think that the chances of it affecting you or anyone other than your very ill elderly parents or grandparents are still very slim.

“You may even think that the societal reaction is a little over the top. After all, it’s just ‘a bad cold’, and old people die of things like influenza anyway so it’s not much different to that.

“You hear about people in the news that were younger or fully healthy, but with no direct context, and the constant media frenzy, you don’t know what to believe.

'Take every measure'

“Here, I just wanted to provide context. It’s real, and it needs to be taken VERY seriously. Please don’t think I’m panic-mongering here, I’m just trying to share how unexpected and close to home this whole thing can be, and how it needs to be taken VERY seriously.

“Take every measure that you can to stop you and your loved ones from being at risk. Be mindful of any areas that other people may have touched, from pin machines and cash points to money and shopping trolleys.

“There are countermeasures you can take. Gloves, frequent washing, face masks.

“Personally, I am absolutely in pieces about the passing of my beautiful auntie…it still doesn’t feel real.

“Steph Peart, I loved you like a mother, and I know you loved me like a son. I am so glad we healed the rifts of the past before your passing. I will always love you, and will forever miss you. RIP Steph.

“As painful as this all is, I hope this story brings home how real this all really is. Stay safe and don’t take any unnecessary risks.”

'She will be missed enormously'

Ms Peart represented the Bloxwich East ward on Walsall Council and was part of a breakaway group of Labour members, including former leader Dave Church and his deputy John Rothery, who quit in a row with the national party.

She later stood as a candidate for the Democratic Labour Party on a number of occasions.

Former Walsall mayor Pete Smith, who was also part of the breakaway group, said: “Steph Peart was a wonderful person whom I have known for well over 30 years.

“We were colleagues in the 1990s when both Labour councillors. She has lived in the adjoining Blakenall ward that I represented, all her life.

“Many of us left the party, including Steph, over our desire and determination to see services decentralised to neighbourhood level which we fought for but not supported by the Labour nationally under Tony Blair.

“Ever since then we have continued to 'hold the faith' as it were, continuing to promote the cause widely, believing it is as relevant as ever.

“Steph was very much a part of this. Since ceasing to be Labour councillors, we have remained friends and colleagues since.

“Steph held the position of the vice chair of the Walsall Socialist Group up to her death and held deep convictions on issues of justice, fairness, empowerment and the need for greater equality.

“She loved her animals and was a kind and loyal friend to so many people.

“We are still reeling at the shock of Steph’s death. She will be missed enormously and never forgotten by us.”

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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