31-year-old Bishop's Stortford man's Covid death in hospital leaves boys without their single dad
Covid-19 claimed the life of a Bishop's Stortford single dad fighting a life-threatening condition.
Ryan Lynch, who was just 31, put everything into raising his two sons, Mason, 10, and Sonnie, 8.
He earned the nickname 'Grinch' because of his mischievous grin, but brother Kieran says that unlike the Dr Seuss character, his fishing and football-loving sibling had a big heart.
"He was so positive and he wouldn't want anyone being miserable around the boys," he said. "He was a single dad bringing up the boys the best he could."
Ryan became the boys' sole carer five years ago while he was working at fruit and veg wholesaler and greengrocer Mike's of Sawbridgeworth.
He found it difficult to juggle night shifts with the school runs, housework and other parenting hurdles. He tried going part-time, but in the end he had to make a difficult decision. "He had to give up his job to bring the boys up," Kieran said.
Kieran, 35, also worked at Mike's of Sawbridgeworth as a manager but was made redundant because of the pandemic. He lives on the Havers estate with wife Donna and three daughters Dulcie, 15, Rhea, 11, and Kerys, 8.
In the wake of Ryan's death, Kieran and Donna have taken in Mason and Sonnie and become their guardians. "It's a full house, but we love those boys like they're our own, so there was no question," he said.
Ryan and Kieran moved to Stortford as tots. The brothers were two of seven children growing up in a close-knit family and attended St Michael's C of E VA Primary School in Apton Road.
A team of 27 Lynch siblings, spouses, partners and children are rallying round Mason and Sonnie.
The family are covering Ryan's funeral costs but his close friends were determined to do something to help. "He's such a loveable rogue and he's got so many friends," Kieran said.
One of them, Glen Bean, set up an online crowdfunding page to accept donations for Mason and Sonnie's future. "The money will go straight to the boys when they're older," Kieran said.
Ryan's unexpected death has hit the family hard.
He went into Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow in mid-January as he was struggling to catch his breath. He was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism, or thrombosis of the lungs, a condition which occurs when something like a blood clot gets wedged in an artery in the lung.
Ryan tested negative for Covid-19 and was looked after on a regular hospital ward. Two days later he tested positive for the virus and was transferred to a coronavirus ward. He died a week later on January 30.
"Even with the health issue, we all assumed he'd be coming out," said Kieran. "No-one was prepared for it."
Kieran, Glen and two of Ryan's other brothers – Justin and Tobias – were able to take turns to say their goodbyes, but the experience brought Kieran little closure.
The visitors had to wear scrubs, full PPE and ventilators while breathing oxygen from tanks on their backs. Kieran found this physical barrier immensely difficult to contend with.
"There was no intimacy. It wasn't like in a film," he said. "It wasn't how I pictured my last moments with my brother."
Kieran hopes that people – particularly those with underlying health conditions such as asthma – will be particularly cautious once lockdown restrictions are eased as his family never anticipated losing someone so young so quickly.
"When the pandemic began I didn't think anything of it," he said. "No-one was expecting it. And now there are two little boys without a dad.
"No-one's future is definite. We understand that now more than ever."
To donate to the online appeal for Mason and Sonnie, visit uk.gofundme.com/f/mason-and-sonnie-lynch-fund.