Morecambe FC announcer who lost sister and mum-in-law during pandemic 'betrayed' by Partygate

A Heysham man who lost two close relatives during the pandemic has slammed his local MP’s comment that it’s time to move on.

By Louise Bryning
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 4:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 4:19 pm

Mark Swindlehurst, Morecambe FC’s voluntary match day announcer, lost his mother-in-law Meryl Gibson to cancer in May 2020 and his sister Karen Whitfield to Covid in January 2021.

Mrs Gibson, from Heysham, spent 50 years as a nurse and volunteered at West End Impact in Morecambe during retirement while Mrs Whitfield, a mum of six, was a care home manager.

“Around the time Mr Johnson was 'eating cake' we were holding a funeral attended by 15 people for my mother-in-law,” wrote Mr Swindlehurst in a letter to Morecambe MP David Morris.

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Mark Swindlehurst with his sister Karen.

“She was not allowed to say goodbye to family members or close friends before passing. While bitterly disappointed, she understood the rules were set by the government for the good of everyone and it was important that we all stuck by them, with no exceptions.”

Mark said had Mrs Gibson’s funeral taken place in normal times, it would have been standing room only for an ‘amazing lady.’

Just seven months later, on New Year’s Eve, Mark’s sister contracted Covid, aged 49.

“Karen spent her career as a caregiver to elderly people, making their twilight years as full and comfortable as possible. She protected her residents throughout 2020 by following every rule and piece of government guidance. She sacrificed her own personal time and never compromised.”

Meryl Gibson, centre, with granddaughter, Ellie, left, and daughter Kerry, right.

He last saw his sister two days before Christmas when they exchanged presents on the doorstep and weren’t allowed to hug or kiss.

Mrs Whitfield, from Morecambe, was rushed into hospital on January 5 and died on January 31. Her funeral was attended by 30 people but her brother believes more would have gone as his sister had helped others so much.

Mr Swindlehurst, manager of Wickes in Morecambe, said David Morris should be ashamed of claiming that everyone is bored of Partygate. He wants to see justice done at a public inquiry.

“I and hundreds of people feel upset and betrayed by what happened in Downing Street and by dismissing it as a bit of 'cake eating' when the Sue Gray report clearly states otherwise is an insult to me, my family and the hundreds of your constituents who knew and loved both of these ladies,”

He asked the MP to explain how people can move on “when we are clearly not being respected or considered when decisions about rule breaking for selfish reasons are being made.”

“Why could Mr Johnson and his staff have a birthday party, when Mrs Gibson could not have the send off she deserved after a lifetime of dedication to the NHS and caring for others? Why could my sister not see any of her family during her last Christmas, while Downing Street partied?”

Mr Morris replied to Mr Swindlehurst, expressing sadness at his bereavements.

“We all sacrificed a lot to adhere to the rules and to keep our friends, family and community safe. I have forwarded your email to the Prime Minister so he is fully aware of your anger on this issue.

“The Prime Minister has apologised, and has now won a vote of confidence in the Conservative Parliamentary Party. Therefore I consider this matter closed and will not be commenting any further.”