A south London nurse who died with Covid-19 managed to inspire almost her entire family to work for the NHS, her son has said.
Linda Obiageli Udeagbala, from Croydon, died aged 60 on February 3 after 17 years working for the health service, most recently with Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mrs Udeagbala is survived by her husband of 40 years, Francis, a psychiatric nurse, and five adult children – Cheyrinne, a midwife, Angelica, a paediatric nurse, Gerard and Colin, who are both mental health nurses and Marvin, who is self-employed.
“My family is full of NHS workers and it all started from my mum, all the inspiration came from her. She was first and we saw her do it then everybody started to follow suit,” Colin Udeagbala, 33, told the PA news agency.
“That’s what she wanted for all of us, to study medicine or study nursing… to help people. She instilled in us to care for others and that’s it’s not just a job.
“She was just a wonderful lady, always going above and beyond for others.”
Mr Udeagbala said his mother never had any plans to retire and despite the risks to her health there was “never any doubt” she would continue to work during the pandemic.
He said Mrs Udeagbala even turned down options to work remotely so she could keep caring for her patients in person.
“She didn’t listen and wanted to have direct contact, she loved the job,” Mr Udeagbala added.
“She was all about caring for one another, loving one another, no matter your race or background, and she was loved by everybody,” he added.
“For me, it was just her kindness and ability to forgive. You’d have an argument with her today and tomorrow she’d always be the person to reach out first and try to settle things. She never held any grudges.”
Mr Udeagbala said his family had been overwhelmed by the kindness shown by his mother’s friends and co-workers, who have raised over £1,900 to help cover her funeral costs.
Mr Udeagbala also called for more protection for older staff members who may be at greater risk from the virus.
“I believe my mum was using PPE the majority of the time, but I don’t know if there was just an odd occasion where it wasn’t effective enough,” he said.
“I would have stricter measures on those who are higher risk and older. She was 60 and more vulnerable.
“But I believe the Government are doing what they can, and I can’t say they failed her because she chose to work.”
Mr Udeagbala said he also felt ways should be found to honour those that lost their lives during the pandemic.
“We can never stop appreciating the work they do… despite the risk to their life, they still went out and continued to do the job,” he added.
“We just hope that she’ll be recognised… her name will be remembered.”
A fundraising page for Mrs Udeagbala funeral costs can be found on GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/burial-of-linda-obiageli-udeagbala-nhs-frontline