Siblings forced into heartbreaking decision over who can attend father's funeral

Seven siblings from a family in Sheffield have to make the "heartbreaking" decision over which of them can go to their dad's funeral after coronavirus rules stipulated only five can attend.

Single dad Gerald Hackford died at the age of 72 from a heart blockage on April 16, just hours after cheerfully speaking to his loved ones over the phone the night before.

Now his grieving family, who are planning the funeral, say the local council have ruled that, because of the coronavirus crisis, only five people can attend the service.

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Gerald's heartbroken daughter Geraldine West, 49, said: "How are we supposed to make this decision? Who will go, who won’t?

The family of father-of-seven Gerald Hackford have appealed a decision to let only five people go to his funeral due to COVID-19. Photo credit: SWNS

"He was a single dad who, amazingly, brought all seven children up himself. We should all be there. We owe that to him, at least."

Geraldine's family have appealed the decision, which she says was made by Sheffield City Council, but have been told if more than five people try and attend the funeral it won't go ahead.

She added: "We're aware of the seriousness of the pandemic and are willing to take extra steps by masking up and wearing gloves.

"We'll stand away from each other if we can all be there for dad like he was there for us."

Hackford (top left), died aged 72, and is mourned by (from left to right) Geraldine, Steven, Paul, Donna, Marika, Melissa and Michelle, but they say a council ruling means only five can attend. Photo credit: SWNS

Following coronavirus outbreak, the Government issued new rules surrounding funerals and the people who can attend - a move designed to help stop the spread of the disease.

It is understood that the maximum number of mourners differs according to region.

Geraldine and her siblings want to have their dad cremated at the council-run City Road Cemetery within the next week.

Paying tribute to Gerald, a former steelworker who made zimmer frames for the city’s hospitals, Geraldine said: “He was the most outgoing man you could ever meet.

“He’d argue with anyone, but then it would go over his head and he’d be your best mate the next day.

"He wasn’t one to hold a grudge and was always there for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Every one of them."

She added: “That night (he died) he spoke to some of us on the phone. He went to bed happy, but he never woke up. We are all devastated.”

As well as seven children, Gerald also leaves behind 33 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren:

Geraldine said: “We were a big family, and dad was loved by all.”

Sheffield City Council has been approached by The Yorkshire Post for comment.

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