Coronavirus: Derby volunteer's legacy to continue after virus death

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image source, Derby Secret Santa
image captionMaria Lawrence started the Derby Secret Santa scheme four years ago

The family of a "selfless" volunteer who died after contracting coronavirus has vowed to continue her charity work in her memory.

Maria Lawrence, who launched the Derby Secret Santa scheme, died in hospital on 20 March.

People paying tribute to Ms Lawrence have called her "selfless", "a shining light" and "an incredible woman".

Her son Dan Clark said "she was like an angel" and "was the nicest, most giving person ever".

"Not for one moment did she not think about someone else," he added.

Ms Lawrence first developed breathing difficulties and a fever before being taken into Royal Derby Hospital and testing positive for coronavirus.

Her family said that after her death, it was discovered Ms Lawrence had an underlying health condition, vasculitis, which had previously gone undiagnosed.

image source, Dan Clark
image captionDan Clark said his mother would be remembered for her charity work

Mr Clark, 22, said: "She was on life support for about a week and we were all hoping she would be OK.

"A lot of people are moaning about not going to the pub or trivial things.

"But if you looked at mum's death certificate and see aged 48 and Covid-19, you wouldn't think this is a joke."

He said his brother Benn, 19, would now continue to run her business and charity work.

"That was her pride and joy and Benn will work to... ensure her legacy lives on," he said.

'A shining light'

Kerrie Wilson, from the Derby Secret Santa scheme, called her "an incredible woman".

"The outpouring of love and support from the community just goes to show how loved and well respected she was," she said.

"She was a shining light who helped thousands of the most vulnerable people in Derby year after year."

Councillor Matthew Holmes described her as "selfless".

"She just wanted to ensure everybody on their own who didn't have family, or were vulnerable, got some joy at Christmas," he said.

"She was just full of joy that she was doing something good for people who may not have family around them."

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