My family's Covid hell has been the scariest weeks of my life – please stick to the rules

THE past few weeks have been the scariest of my life, as coronavirus has ripped through my family.

My 64-year-old dad, Mark Snr, was hospitalised with the virus just before Christmas, and both of his brothers are now battling Covid in hospital.

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My nan, who is in her eighties, is at home after a spell in hospital and my grandad is struggling at home.

I’ve been scared of the virus since day one, but it’s not until you see it first hand, with your dad being taken to hospital by ambulance, that it truly hits home.

It’s at moments like that you think, ‘I may never see my dad again’. All you can do is hope for the best.

I’m praying every night that they all make a full recovery.

Dad is home now and on the mend, but he’s not 100 per cent. He is still struggling with symptoms, as well the effects of the meds that the wonderful staff at Whipps Cross hospital, in Leytonstone, East London, gave him to help him recover.


Dad’s illness started with weird symptoms, he felt like he had a bit of grit in his eye and then felt bloated, as if he had acid in his stomach.

He fell asleep every time he sat down and he had no appetite. Eventually, when we called an ambulance, they found his oxygen levels were too low so he had to be admitted to hospital.

Having seen how it has affected my family, the conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers — including some of my friends — frustrate the life out of me when they dismiss the virus and say death counts are not accurate when they say stuff like “died with” not “died of”.

I understand some of the stats might not be 100 per cent right, I understand that some people are asymptomatic and some people think it’s less than a cold, because it is — for some.

But we’ve all seen the death counts, and they are terrifying.

How can you read an Instagram post of an empty corridor in a hospital and believe that over the Prime Minister, who is feeding information given to him by experts and has been in intensive care himself?

If Boris Johnson is saying the hospitals are overrun, you have to be off your head to believe otherwise.

We know it’s taking lives every day — too many lives — and we know that others are left in a very bad way.

My brother Josh is a professional footballer, as healthy as you can be, but even he has suffered terribly with it.

Five months on he still has after-effects, he can’t smell or taste. This virus is horrendous.

Take it from someone like me, who’s looking at two uncles, a grandma, grandad, a dad and a mum who have all suffered horrendously in the past few weeks.


The frightening thing is that no one in my family has mixed at all. No one saw each other over Christmas and they haven’t been socialising, but this new variant is spreading like wildfire.

So my message is listen to the Government and listen to people that have been in a situation like myself, and then please stick to the rules.

What really angers me is hearing cynics say, “It only affects the really vulnerable”.

But why would it be OK for someone with an underlying health condition, such as cancer, diabetes or arthritis, to die just because they are more affected by Covid?

Like everyone else, I long to go back to parties and pub visits.

I have had the same group of 15 friends since childhood and we usually go to the pub every week. I miss them all dearly and I miss being able to whisk my wife Michelle away for the weekend and going on holiday, but I can’t.

I’m not moaning, because it’s a lot easier for the likes of me. I haven’t got children that can’t be at school, I live in a nice house and I’ve got space and a garden.

But I still want to return to our old life, and we will be living that sooner rather than later if people follow the rules.

The people who are breaking the rules with parties need to behave, or they’re going to be having to attend illegal get-togethers even longer.

We’ve all broken rules in our lives, but when it comes to a virus that’s killing people, now’s not the time.

On Sunday I was lucky enough to make my professional football debut for Crawley Town — in a giant-killer match which saw us knock Premier League Leeds United out of the FA Cup with a 3-0 victory.


Although I only came on for a few minutes, it was an amazing moment for me and one I will never forget. But obviously it was impossible to celebrate properly. Normally there would have been a pitch invasion from the fans then you’d go out afterwards with your team-mates and families and have a drink.

But I like to turn every negative into a positive and, when we finally can do these things, they are going to be that much better.

That first dance at a post-Covid wedding will feel better than it ever did. The first drink you order at the pub is going to be the best drink you’ve ever ordered.

The vaccination programme means there is light at the end of the tunnel and that’s why I’m behind The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign.

The volunteers that have signed up so far are amazing. We need to get as many people vaccinated as swiftly as possible so we can get back to normality.

The quicker we get people vaccinated, the quicker we can get our lives back.

Until that day, stick in there, obey the rules and stay safe.

  • Mark Wright: The Last Chance, which documents his journey to become a professional footballer, is currently on the BBC iPlayer. Mark donated his fee for this article to an NHS charity.

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