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An Oban man has paid tribute to his popular mum who died from COVID-19 while he was in a coma fighting the same virus.
James Scott, who cheated death twice in his own touch-and-go battle, has led the tributes to his ’84-year-young’ mum, Jessie – one of Oban’s best known volunteers, a devoted mum, granny, great-grandmother and much-loved friend to all.
In her honour, Oban Community Council has donated £1,000 to Hope Kitchen where she was a volunteer.
Mr Scott, 63 and who spent 38 days in hospital, said his beautiful mum had been in ‘fantastic’ health before the virus hit.
It was his wife and ‘rock’ Sandra, who told him the shock news when he awoke from the induced coma at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where ‘outstanding’ medics saved his life.
‘I hadn’t even known mum was ill, she’d been in fantastic health, I hadn’t known I’d been ill either.
‘Doctors told me I’d almost died twice but the hardest bit of all that’s happened has been losing my mum. It was a total shock because I’d just come out of a coma, although I’d remembered a dream I’d gone to visit her in hospital and taken her some fancy biscuits.
‘I know the nurses and doctors at Oban would have done what they could for her and we are grateful for that. She’d been in there for 17 days. From my own near-death experience I’m sure she died peacefully. I don’t know how either of us got this virus.
‘There was just eight at her funeral but we’ll have a memorial for her once all this is over. There will be a lot of people wanting to say their goodbyes,’ said Mr Scott, who has a brother Adrian in Australia.
‘I’ve been so close to my wee mum all my life. She was a beautiful woman and a strong woman. She loved being with people, always found someone else to worry about rather than herself and loved her ‘job’ at Hope. She always put other people first.
‘Mum was the best. When we were little we never went without. If we couldn’t have anything new then we’d have it second-hand. We never went hungry, we always had food and she has carried that on through her volunteering at Hope by looking after those who need it,’ said Mr Scott who had to learn to stand again after the coma that lasted more than two weeks followed by another week ‘out of it’ on critical care and high dependency wards.
His wife Sandra called an ambulance after he took ill at home.
‘I didn’t have a cough. I’d just gone to bed for a couple of days feeling a bit cold and shivery, I just thought it was a bit of flu,’ said Mr Scott.
It was when his wife brought him some toast and noticed he had ‘changed colour’ that she got help.
‘She said I’d changed colour. I don’t remember a thing about it. They put me on a ventilator at Oban hospital and then into an induced coma before they took me to Glasgow,’ said Mr Scott, who was told by doctors he was their first coronavirus patient to survive after being so long on a ventilator.
When Mr Scott was well enough to talk to family on video-link his mum, who died on April 8, had been buried two days earlier, on April 20.
‘They told me I was very lucky to survive the virus, I was the first person to have been on a ventilator for so long and to make it but I’d have been the luckiest man on earth if my my mum was still here,’ he said.
Although he lost a lot of muscle strength during the coma and it took days to be able to stand up again, he is recovering well and tests have confirmed he is coronavirus free.
His family were delighted when he finally came home, with his grandchildren making him a special welcome home banner.
Community Council chairman Marri Malloy said its £1,000 donation towards Hope’s food boxes was a fitting tribute to Jessie who lived in Soroba.
She said: ‘Jessie was well-known in the town for her volunteering. She did so much but got on with it quietly and we wanted to honour her for that. Hope is doing wonderful work looking after so many people during this difficult time that we felt it was a fitting tribute because it’s doing what Jessie did best, making sure everyone was cared for.’
Jessie’s friend and fellow Hope volunteer Beth Campbell also paid tribute. She said: ‘Jessie had a big heart and the kindest nature. She wasn’t beyond passing her opinion but always saw the best in people. Front and centre of her life were her family, she loved them completely and we were blessed with many tales of their achievements. Age was just a number to Jessie, she had boundless energy and was totally committed to her place with us at Hope. She was our friend and we loved her very much and will miss her even more.’
Hope’s service manager Catriona Petit said the community council’s donation in Jessie’s memory would be a big help.
Hope is packing up 150 food boxes a week from its Soroba Road base, helping feed struggling individuals and families. Supplies are also reaching people in Mull, Dalmally, across to Luing, Seil and out to Barcaldine.
‘We are so blessed by the generosity of the community and we are here to help everyone. Some people have never had to ask for help before but we are here for them now. The community council’s donation in Jessie’s memory is gratefully received,’ said Catriona, who added: ‘Jessie was an amazing force of nature. She was still driving, taking people to lunch clubs, working and helping out here at Hope. There was so much that she was involved in. She was 84 years young, a vibrant part of the Oban community, making people feel really cared for and loved.’
Anyone who is struggling and needs food, can call Hope on 01631 565730 for confidential help.