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Former deputy editor dies after being diagnosed with coronavirus

Chris BarrettThe former deputy editor of a regional daily has died aged 75 two days after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Tributes have been paid to Chris Barrett, who was second in command at the Southern Daily Echo for most of the 70s and 80s.

According to the Echo, he died in hospital with his two daughters by his side “dressed from top to toe in protective clothing”.

One of his daughters is now in isolation with his wife Gwen, and the pair are unable to be with other members of the family.

The family said in a statement: “If you don’t think coronavirus will affect you, please, please think again. It can hit anyone and it will change your life in a way that you cannot begin to imagine. Stick to the rules and don’t take any chances.

“This is heart-breaking for everyone. People need to realise that coronavirus devastates lives without even infecting them with its poison.

“It’s hard to imagine how we as a family are going to get through this, constantly watching and waiting for any symptoms and not knowing what might happen next.

“He, and us as a family, wouldn’t want anyone else to go through the nightmare that we are living right now.”

Chris worked for the Southampton-based Echo between 1971 and 1990 during a career which also saw him serve as a producer for Meridian News.

He died in Southampton General Hospital on Thursday after being admitted four days earlier with heart palpitations. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 two days before he died.

In their statement, the family added: “His daughters, with help from the staff on C5 ward at Southampton General Hospital, were able to spend some precious time with him before he died. The nursing staff dressed them from head to toe in protective clothing and made sure they followed the correct procedures going in and out of his room to keep them as safe as possible.

“The staff were amazing, so caring and kind and totally selfless in their work. We cannot thank them enough.”

“The family is struggling to come to terms with Chris’ death but the grief is so much worse because we can’t be together. One daughter is self-isolating with Chris’ wife because she is vulnerable and cannot be alone. She has not been able to hug her mum and has not had a hug from her own husband or children. Her husband can’t be there for her in her desperate time of need to comfort and reassure her.

“We are taking comfort from all the messages and phone calls from family and friends. Chris worked for many years at Meridian News and was such a modest man. It is only now we are realising just how highly-respected and loved he was by his colleagues. Chris was a great man and was loved by everyone that knew him.”

Chris was an avid walker in the New Forest, and completed the 630-mile South West Coast path before being diagnosed with cancer last year.

His daughter Linda said: “When he produced the Meridian bulletin he always tried to include good news stories, he wanted to bring happiness to people at home and not doom and gloom.

“I know he would not want to be a bad news story himself, but he would be pleased to think us speaking about our situation might help to prevent another family from going through what we are now.

“This is not about scaremongering, but about trying to get people to understand that Coronavirus is very real and not just something that happens to other people.”

Chris lived in the Hampshire village of Dibden Purlieu with Gwen. He is also survived by daughters Emma and Linda, and grandchildren Amy, Charlotte, Jack, Caitlin and Ella.


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  • March 31, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I was a cub reporter in Chris’ last year or so at the Echo. He was a very nice human being and universally-liked

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  • March 31, 2020 at 10:03 am

    I remember Chris from the Torquay days in the 60’s he was always cheerful and a pleasure to work with.
    Condolences to his family. Graham Gough.

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