Ben loves life. He’s happy, has great friends, a great family and his smile brings joy to anyone who meets him. Ben is 34 and has Down Syndrome. Earlier this year, his smile faded entirely as he caught Coronavirus and was taken to hospital in the early hours of the morning by his mum Diane.

With tight restrictions on visitors, the next day after a sleepless night worrying about Ben, his stepdad Neil swapped places with his Mum so she could go home, get fresh clothes and whatever brief sleep she could, thinking she’d be back with her son in a matter of hours.

Unexpectedly during this time, the COVID ward was sealed shut, effectively keeping everyone inside, and everyone else out. Diane had no option but to be apart from her son at a time when no one knew what was happening or how bad the virus was. Like all parents when their child is sick, there was only one place Diane wanted to be – besides Ben to hold his hand and reassure him everything would be ok.

Whilst in hospital Ben became so ill he was given 24 hours to live, no one expected him to survive. Scared, confused, surrounded by strangers and wondering where his Mum was, it was a frightening time for Ben. For his Mum, there was absolutely nothing she could do. From afar, she feared the worst – the ultimate nightmare of any parent that they may lose a child and that he was entirely on his own. There was nothing she could do.

Diane said:

“You hear it when people talk about this being every parent’s nightmare – possibly losing a child. I was that parent and that was my nightmare. To not be allowed to be with my beautiful Ben when he needed me the most, was the most terrifying, torturous hell I’ve ever been through, if his step-dad wasn’t there I’m not sure he would have survived; the nurses were so busy.

We got lucky though – our little fighter fought on and came through it. Seeing him for the first time after the worst 2 weeks of our lives was amazing, of course it was, but I will never forget the endless hours of crippling pain and worry of not knowing if he would pull through.

For the Mums, Dads, parents, grandparents, sisters and brothers of everyone in the Bradford District, please, please, please stay safe; keep each other safe. Hear our story and read every word. All Ben and I want is for you to follow the rules, don’t break them and look after each other. Don’t be where we were.”