'They were really loved' - Family's tribute after parents of tragic South Shields nurse also die after contracting coronavirus

A dedicated nurse who died after contracting coronavirus will be laid to rest alongside his parents who also lost their lives after a battle with the illness.

Keith Dunnington, 54, from South Shields, worked as a staff nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead and had spent more than 30 years on the front line supporting patients.

The dad-of-two will be laid to rest alongside his parents, Lillian and Maurice, who also recently passed away following a short battle with Covid-19.

Lillian died on Friday, May 1 and was holding hands with Maurice, who had been brought to her bedside from his ward by hospital staff, in her final moments. Maurice then died over the weekend.

Left - Maurice Dunnington, pictured with his son Keith Dunnington (centre) and his wife Lillian. Right - Keith Dunnington, a nurse from South Shields who died after contracting coronavirus two weeks before his parents also died of the illness

Speaking ahead of their joint funeral later in May, Debbie Harvey – Keith’s cousin and his parents’ niece – told the Gazette that the three were ‘really loved’ and would be ‘greatly missed’ by all who knew them.

Keith, dad to Ben, 21 and Olivia, 17, trained to become a nurse in Birmingham and ‘gave 200%’ to everything he did.

At the time of his death, he was employed by agency Pulse Jobs.

“He looked after people so well and stood up for them,” Debbie said.

Keith, centre, pictured with dad Maurice and mum Lillian.

“He would stand up to the highest consultant if he thought his patient was in danger or needed help.”

A champion swimmer for South Tyneside, Keith – who attended Laygate and Mortimer Schools – took home countless prizes and trophies. He also acted as a scout for Sunderland AFC when he first left school.

Yvonne Ormston MBE, chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, paid tribute to him as a “popular and hard-working” member of the nursing team in a message to staff following his death.

Keith Dunnington, a nurse at the QE at Gateshead, died on April 19.

Dad Maurice, 85, was well-known around town after working for Stagecoach both on the buses and at the depot.

He was also a devoted supporter of the British Legion and a ‘brilliant singer’ who enjoyed a spin on the karaoke machine.

Debbie, 55, remembered her uncle as ‘larger than life’ and went on to say she would always treasure memories of afternoons spent together as a family and Christmases at ‘Auntie Lillian’s’, where she would put on a fantastic spread of food ‘enough to feed the 300’.

Lillian, who was 81, previously worked at South Tyneside College’s Winterbottom Hall as a catering assistant.

Debbie added: “She was a lovely, quiet, private person – and she had the most generous, loving heart.”

The family has been ‘overwhelmed’ by messages in tribute to Keith and his parents following their deaths.

At their funeral in a couple of weeks, Amazing Grace by Il Divo will be played in tribute to Maurice – who Debbie says could have given the group a run for their money with his voice.

Streets of London, by Ralph McTell, will be played in tribute to Lillian. It was her favourite song.

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Debbie, who lives in South Shields with husband Doug, added: “I think it’s important that people realise the virus is deadly.

“It’s too early to lift lockdown as people are dying. It’s wiped out a whole family.”

Keith, Lillian and Maurice’s funeral will take place on Saturday, May 16 at South Shields Crematorium at 9.45am.

The family has requested that any donations in lieu of flowers be made to Living Waters Church at Laygate, South Shields.

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