Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a “larger than life” former nurse who has died with coronavirus aged 73.
Lynne Drummond, a mum-of-three and grandmother-of-five, became unwell in early January and was taken to Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli when her condition deteriorated.
Despite being desperately ill with Covid-19 she was eager to take part in clinical trials and donated blood to a research project spearheaded by one of the hospital’s consultants.
Her heartbroken family said she “fought all the way” but died on Monday, January 25 – just five days before she was set to be given her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“She was such a larger-than-life person. She just filled the room as soon as she was in there,” said her granddaughter Abbie Drummond.
“She was definitely the centre of the family and a big inspiration to me. She worked as a nurse for 30 years, and even though she retired she carried that forward in the family. I’m a student nurse and she’s definitely the reason why I have chosen this career.”
Lynne, who was heavily involved in the church and loved to cook, passed as a state-registered nurse in April 1969 and won first prize in the hospital finals.
She worked as a staff nurse at Morriston Hospital in Swansea before moving to the old Llanelli General Hospital where she spent the next 14 years primarily on the surgical unit.
When Prince Philip Hospital opened she was heavily involved in developing the endoscopy and day care unit and became sister in charge before rising to senior nurse manager until her retirement in 1998.
Lynne was also appointed community health councillor to the Carmarthenshire Health Authority in 2000 by then Welsh Health Secretary Jane Hutt and was later elected deputy chairwoman.
“She was a very popular nurse in the hospital, everyone knew her and she was really well-respected,” Abbie added.
Following a positive coronavirus test on January 3, Lynne was admitted to Prince Philip Hospital five days later when her breathing became more laboured.
“She was so determined to fight this until the end. Her mind didn’t give up on her, it was her body,” Abbie added.
The family set up a GoFundMe page after her death to raise money for the Professor Keir Lewis Covid-19 Research Fund which aims to better understand the disease. To donate please go to https://uk.gofundme.com/f/professor-keir-lewis-covid19-research-fund
Prof Lewis, who is respiratory lead at Hywel Dda University Health Board, was Lynne’s consultant as she battled against the deadly virus.
He said: “I have been so deeply impressed by Lynne and many people like her. Despite being so unwell they have donated blood and helped us in many research projects.
“Our patients help us better understand this terrible disease and will help others. In Prince Philip Hospital we are recruiting into the large studies that you hear about on TV, but we are the only hospital in the world doing four other projects:
- Collecting blood for a Covid bio bank where researchers of the future can access samples to develop faster tests and try new drugs;
- Working with researchers in Porton Down (Army research centre in England) to examine why some people’s immune systems behave so differently to others to the virus. This could help us understand what drugs might suit different people;
- Testing brand new CPAP machines (made in Ammanford) to help people breathe;
- Testing hand-held ultrasound scanners and artificial intelligence to detect early lung changes (without x-rays and radiation).”
Abbie described Prof Lewis as a “brilliant man” who helped care for her grandmother in her final days and kept the family informed about her condition throughout her stay.
“He is the type of man who, when he says ‘we’ve done everything we can for Lynne’, we know he’s telling the truth. He really tried his hardest to save her,” she said.
“It was a no-brainer to raise money for his research [in lieu of flowers.]”
Due to current coronavirus restrictions, Lynne’s funeral on March 3 will only be able to accommodate a few dozen people.
“It’s so frustrating. There would be hundreds of people at her funeral in normal times as she was such a well-known person in Llanelli,” Abbie added.
“She was a part of so many different clubs and community groups that would raise thousands for charity. She would always put others before herself.”
Lynne leaves behind her husband of more than 50 years, Jim Drummond, her three sons Andrew, Robert and Ian and her five grandchildren Hannah, Abbie, Rhiannon, Holly and Rhys.