Coronavirus: Tributes to ‘inseparable’ Plaistow couple who died 24 hours apart

Betty and Ken Hill have both died after being diagnosed with coronavirus. Picture: Family handout/LD

Betty and Ken Hill have both died after being diagnosed with coronavirus. Picture: Family handout/LDRS - Credit: Family handout/LDRS

An “inseparable” Plaistow couple who had been together for more than 40 years died within 24 hours of each other after both testing positive for coronavirus.

Betty Hill, 72, died in intensive care at Newham University Hospital less than a day after her husband Ken, 69, who passed away at home having been discharged after taking his wife in.

The couple were “lifelong” West Ham fans and helped organise the club’s Remembrance Day events with the Royal British Legion.

Daughter Sharon Stevens, 50, said: “They were inseparable. They did everything together. Their life was the Legion. They loved organising the trips and services everyone there loved them.

“It’s been incredibly hard to lose them both in this way. We will be organising a big memorial when this is all over to give them the send off they really deserve.”

On March 15, a week before the government announced the lockdown, Ken, the East Ham Royal British Legion secretary, told members on Facebook that meetings were being suspended because of coronavirus. He added “keep safe and look after yourself”.

Bob Spencer, the chairman of the RBL’s East Ham branch, paid tribute to the couple, who had been together for 42 years and married 15 years ago.

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“They were wonderful, fun-loving and dedicated members. They were always happy as they were together.

“No one can believe they are gone. They would do anything for anybody, they will both be greatly missed.”

The couple, who had seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, went to hospital on March 22. Ken called an ambulance for his wife when she was struggling to breathe and she was later placed on a ventilator.

Her husband, who was suffering from a cough, tested positive for coronavirus but as his symptoms did not appear to be getting worse he was allowed to return home, where he died on April 2.

Hours later doctors took Betty off her ventilator when she was not responding to treatment and she died the following morning.

Ken had served in the Royal Corps of Transport before leaving to work as a lorry driver and then at Leyton station. His wife was was a cleaner for Newham Council.

A spokesman for West Ham said that everyone at the club was “deeply saddened by the passing of lifelong Hammers Betty and Ken Hill” and that the pair had been longstanding season ticket holders.

“Proud East Enders Betty and Ken were longstanding season ticket holders at both the Boleyn Ground and London Stadium,” the club said.

“Ken was a respected member of the club’s Supporter Advisory Board at both grounds and a pillar of the local community. Both loyal and popular fans, Ken was chairman and Betty served on the committee of the West Ham United Supporters’ Club. West Ham United would like to pass on sincere condolences to Betty and Ken’s loved ones at this sad time.”

A spokesman for Barts Health Trust, which runs Newham University Hospital, said they could not comment on individual cases.