'Pillar of the community' died aged 38 after contracting Covid-19 at festival with family and friends

A Yorkshire father, partner and school governor who was a 'pillar of the community' in his South Yorkshire village died aged 38 after contracting Covid-19 at a festival, his wife has said as she pays tribute to him.

Paul Martin contracted Covid-19 and died in October 2021, despite being just 38 years old and having no underlying health conditions.

Paul lived in Harworth, South Yorkshire, with his partner of 17 years Viki Lister and his three daughters Faith, Isobel and Lily-Rose.

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Viki, aged 39, said: “He was a one of a kind gentleman. He always had a smile on his face and had the kindest heart ever. Paul had such a zest for life and his whole world revolved around his three daughters who he saw as princesses. He wasn’t a man who was afraid to show his affection; we always knew how much he loved us.”

Paul Martin died with Covid-19 aged just 38

Paul was a tattoo artist and owned a shop in Harworth called Faibel Rose Tattoo.

Viki said: “The whole village knows who he is. I’ve lived here my entire life but Paul moved here when we got together but he somehow knew more people than me.

“Everyone showed up for his funeral. It was incredible - hundreds of people in the streets. He was a pillar in our community and I have had hundreds of messages from people that I don’t even know saying what a great man he was.”

Paul was on the school governing board at Harworth All Saints, where staff and pupils made neon green hearts and stood outside the school on the day of the funeral.

Paul with his children when they were younger

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Paul caught Covid-19 after he attended a festival with family and friends. His daughters and Viki also caught the virus but Paul was determined to be the one looking after them.

“He was cooking for us and doing the cleaning,” Viki said. “He didn’t have serious symptoms in the beginning - just a cough. Paul even said ‘I think I’m getting better’ before things got worse.”

After Paul received a negative PCR test and his cough did not go away he made the decision to go to the hospital to get checked out.

Paul and his partner of 17 years, Viki

“At the time we thought he would be there for a couple of hours at most,” Viki added. “We didn’t think it was serious at all. He was put on oxygen but he could still talk. All the doctors and nurses adored him at the hospital. He was so charming and determined to be a perfect patient.”

The next morning Paul was moved to the ICU at Bassetlaw hospital. Viki was able to video call with her partner and they constantly texted one another.

“He didn’t think he would be staying there long,” she said. “The messages we sent each other were so normal - things like where we would go for lunch when he was out and what drinks he was craving.”

After a couple of days in the hospital Paul had an x-ray which showed that he had damage to his lungs and Viki was told he had acute respiratory distress (ARD).

Doctors told her this would likely slow down his recovery process, but sadly he deteriorated much faster than they were expecting.

“They let me and his mum in to see him one day,” Viki said. “Because of the Covid-19 rules they only let that happen when it's their end of life. So I knew what was happening - I was in floods of tears but I didn’t want him to see me like that.

“He still thought he was coming home - right until the end he never gave up. The doctors wanted to put him on a ventilator and he was googling how to recover afterwards and what he could do to improve his stats. He wouldn’t give me his phone because he wanted to be able to ring me the second he woke up.”

Paul didn’t wake up after he was put on the ventilator.

His heart rate went up as well as his blood pressure and he died on October 12.

“It’s so unfair - he loved his life, he would say it all the time,” Viki said. “He was so talented and so happy. Paul was the nicest, kindest, loveliest man and he lived and breathed for me and the kids. It’s such a waste of life - we feel like our life has been stolen.

“People don’t realise how serious this is. We thought Paul would come home - but he didn’t. Please take it seriously because it has ripped our world apart. Do everything in your power to not let that happen to you.”

A fundraiser has been started by friends of the family - you can donate here.