'My husband went through hell. He had a terrible journey'
A FORMER secretary of Mudeford Men’s Club died after an eight-week battle against Covid-19 during which his distraught wife could only visit him twice.
John Oliver contracted the virus in March and spent the next two months in hospital before dying on 5th June. His wife Sally told the A&T how she had been allowed to see him just twice – the last time the day before he died.
“It was an awful time for us all as a family. John went through hell. He had a terrible journey,” she said.
“The virus affected his brain and he was very confused during the time he was in hospital and, of course, none of us could visit him.
“That was really horrible. I am just glad that I got to see him that last time before he died.”
Sally said John (85) had been “reasonably fit and well” before he contracted the virus.
“He contracted an infection and had a temperature,” she explained. “I am a retired nurse so cared for him at home in the beginning.
“It was at the start of all this and after a few days he was tested for coronavirus and it came back positive.
“He was taken into hospital and never came home. He was moved to a few different hospitals and was in Bridport when he died.”
One of John's sons and his daughter managed to visit him in his last days at Bridport Hospital which she said was a “great comfort”.
As a result of the Covid-19 restrictions Sally could only have 12 people to John’s funeral, so she was thrilled when members of Mudeford Men’s Club turned out to pay a special tribute to him.
She said: “We live in a bungalow at the back of the club. The funeral cortege left from here and there were about 150 people stood outside it clapping, giving John an amazing send off.
“It was so moving. He was so well thought of. He loved his work with the community. He was also treasurer of the village hall and chairman of the local pub watch.
“He enjoyed working for the organisations so much.”
Sally first met John at a friend’s 50th birthday party. She said: “We were both divorcees at the time and I was not impressed by John at all.
“I thought he was the most opinionated man I had ever met! But he got my phone number and for literally three weeks he rang me every day until I agreed to go to dinner with him.
“We became a couple very quickly and two years later were married in the back garden of the house of friends of his in Australia.
“He was a wonderful man and we were very happy for 21 years.”
John was born in Chingford, Essex, and was educated at grammar school. He was a talented rugby player and throughout his life the sport was one of his greatest loves.
His national service was in the RAF and he later worked for Polaroid and Agfa. John moved to Mudeford during the seventies and became a well-known figure locally.
One of his greatest achievements in the 1980s was organising a fundraising event which included a sponsored weight loss that raised £20,000.
He had two sons and a daughter, and he and Sally had eight grandchildren between them.
Sally said: “We had a wonderful life together. I have so many lovely cards and flowers from people who knew John. That has really helped.”