Family hit by double coronavirus tragedy lost brother and father

‘There were four of us, now there’s two’: Family devastated by double coronavirus tragedy lost brother, 47, and father, 74, in the space of seven months

  • Suzanne Selby lost brother Alan, 47, and father Karl, 74, in Fleetwood, Lancashire
  • Her army veteran brother died unexpectedly from coronavirus in May last year
  • Karl died in hospital seven months later in January from Covid after a house fire

A family devastated by a double coronavirus tragedy lost a brother and father in the space of seven months. 

Suzanne Selby has paid tribute to her brother Alan, 47, and father Karl, 74, and pleaded with the public to take the threat of the virus seriously. 

In May last year, Suzanne unexpectedly found her brother Alan dead at his home in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

He worked as a chef in a care home and had no underlying health conditions that his family were aware of.

Suzanne Selby (bottom right) has paid tribute to her brother Alan, 47, (top right) from Fleetwood, Lancashire, and father Karl, 74,  (top left) from Heywood, Greater Manchester, after they died from coronavirus seven months apart

The Army veteran had taken a week’s holiday in the midst of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and was preparing to go back to work when he developed a cough.

Suzanne believes around twenty residents in his care home had tested positive by this point.

She said: ‘My mum had phoned him and he didn’t answer.

‘We thought he must just be in bed and he lived alone. So I drove over and I found him on the bathroom floor.’

Karl Selby, a much-respected and well-known member of the Heywood community

It was only after a coroner’s investigation began that the family discovered Alan had contracted coronavirus.

His death aged 47 will be the subject of an inquest hearing later this year. 

Alan’s dad Karl Selby, a much-respected and well-known member of the Heywood community, never got over the death of his son, Suzanne says.

And then on Christmas Day evening, a fire broke out in the neighbouring property to Karl and wife Janet’s home on Agincourt Street.

At first, emergency services believed the elderly couple would be able to stay while the blaze was extinguished, but unfortunately it became more serious and late in the evening they had to be evacuated.

The cause of the fire is the subject of a police investigation and the Selbys’ home remains uninhabitable due to the damage.

There has been an outpouring of support for Karl and Janet and a GoFundMe set up to help them with repairs.

Suzanne, 42, said although her parents had home insurance, they have yet to receive a payout due to the ongoing police investigation.

Matty Booth, who set up the fundraising page, said: ‘My stepdad passed away in August and he always helped people, I just wanted to do something to follow in his footsteps.

‘Karl and Janet are well known in the community, they’ve helped people all their lives.’

Alan (pictured centre, when he became a God parent) worked as a chef in a care home and had no underlying health conditions that his family were aware of

While the fundraising efforts have been successful, sadly there was another tragic twist of fate following the fire.

Karl and Janet moved in with their daughter Suzanne, her husband and two children. Within days all four adults caught coronavirus.

The two children tested negative.


Professor Spector and researchers from King’s College London have developed a symptom-tracking app which has seen millions of Britons sign up and report their symptoms. 

The full list of symptoms, in order of how predictive they are of the disease, include:

1. Loss of smell/taste

2. Persistent cough

3. Fatigue

4. Loss of appetite

5. Skin rash

6. Hives

7. Fever

8. Severe muscle pain

9. Shortness of breath

10. Diarrhoea

11. Delirium

12. Abdominal pain

13. Chest pain

14. Hoarse voice

15. Eye soreness

16. Sore or painful throat

17. Nausea or vomiting

18. Headache

19. Dizziness or light headedness

Suzanne said: ‘I was the one who kind of got off lightly. I was aching and tired, I’ve lost my taste and smell, but I was still able to cook for everyone and look after dad.

‘My friend is a nurse and I asked ‘is there anything we can do beyond paracetamol?’

‘He [Suzanne’s father] had a fever and loss of appetite. She recommended we got a pulse oximeter to test his oxygen levels.

‘The first reading was really low, the minimum is supposed to be 93 and it was 68.’

Karl Selby was admitted to Oldham Royal hospital at the start of the year and Suzanne said the care he received was fantastic.

He eventually chose to be put on a ventilator but tragically he lost his fight with Covid on January 9 aged 74.

‘The thing that gets to me is when people say ‘it’s only a cold what does it matter?’ said Suzanne.

‘There was four of us at the start of 2020 now there’s two. It’s not even a full year. People do get coronavirus and get over it.

‘But it’s wiped out 50 per cent of my family in seven months. My mum and dad wore a mask everywhere and gelled their hands all the time.

‘I work as a nanny and my work hasn’t got it – I don’t think I got from there. When he goes shopping, my husband is very anal about gelling his hands and wearing a mask.

‘We’ve been doing all that and we still ended up getting it. We don’t know where it came from. We have been really careful and we can’t pinpoint it.’

Karl Selby was the chairman of Bullough Moor Bowling Club in Heywood and will be sorely missed by friends and colleagues.

Heywood Bowls League said in a post on Facebook: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Bullough Moor Chairman Karl Selby.

‘Beyond being an absolute gentleman, Karl played a significant role in junior bowls in the Heywood area for decades, teaching youngsters how to play and getting them into the sport.

‘He will be a huge miss to bowling, Heywood and the local community.’

Karl’s funeral will be held at St James Church in Heywood at midday on January 26.

Due to Covid restrictions, only 30 people will be able to come into the church, however mourners are invited to line the streets outside. 

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