Quick-thinking Newtownabbey girl called 999 as dad fought Covid

A Newtownabbey couple who were both hospitalised after falling ill with Coronavirus have praised their daughter for helping to raise the alarm and get her dad the medical assistance he required.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 12:00 pm

Grace Cullen (10) realised her father Billy was seriously ill in January and with the help of her older brother, Carl, phoned for an ambulance to transfer Billy to hospital.

The situation was made more traumatic for the Glengormley schoolgirl as her mum Joanne was already in hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Now almost six months later, Joanne and Billy, who works as a lorry driver, wish to praise the Earlview Primary pupil for her rapid and mature response to the frightening experience earlier this year.

Billy, Joanne and Grace.
Billy, Joanne and Grace.

Joanne said: “I have diabetes and asthma and in October 2019 I had to have a kidney and tumour removed. Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer, but when the pandemic struck in March 2020, we shielded due to my underlying health conditions.

“Grace, who was nine at the time, really matured during this period. She never missed a day of online learning, kept on top of her homework and helped out around the house and walked the dog.

“In January of this year I tested positive for coronavirus and I got very sick and had to go to hospital.

“Billy then tested positive a couple of days later. He was very out of breath and it had drained him.

“He has never had any issues with his health, but he fell ill with Covid. Grace was at home with him and realised that he was having difficulty breathing.

“She was able to use her initiative to raise the alarm and he was transferred to Antrim Area Hospital. Looking back, I believe her quick reactions saved her dad’s life.”

The couple remained in hospital for a number of days before being discharged and Billy has since been able to return to work.

Now that lockdown measures are easing, Joanne wishes to stress the impact Coronavirus has had on her family in a bid to reduce the chances of a further Covid wave and restrictions.

She added: “Covid-19 is not the flu. Some people have contracted it and not had any serious effects. Other people have really suffered and needed medical assistance and unfortunately other people have died after becoming infected.

“It’s great the situation has improved and there is some light at the end of the tunnel, but please don’t get lax. The virus is still circulating and it is still deadly. My family know how serious Covid can be. Please follow the guidelines to protect the community.”

Joanne and Billy wish to thank relatives and friends for the support they received during their recovery.

Joanne said: “We had people calling with dinners and hampers for us and it really was appreciated.”


Click here to read Newtownabbey Covid victim’s daughter reaches out to pandemic bereaved


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