Paramedic dad spends Father’s Day alone to protect family from coronavirus

Andrew, Phoebe and George hugging and smiling together
Andrew, Phoebe and George

London Ambulance Service paramedic Andrew Cox (40) will be spending Father’s Day alone while he shields from his wife and two young children to help protect them from the dangers of coronavirus.

Andrew’s wife, Shelley (35), has been battling Crohn’s disease since she was 16 years old. Her illness puts her into a higher risk category and Andrew’s job as a paramedic working on the frontline makes living as family together too risky at the moment.

This year Andrew, Shelley and their two children, Phoebe (6) and George (2), will be postponing Father’s Day until they can be reunited again.

Since lockdown began on 23 March, 162 London Ambulance Service staff have moved out of their family homes and into temporary accommodation so they could stay on the frontline helping Londoners while protecting loved ones who may be at additional risk.

Andrew said: “The novelty of staying in a hotel did wear off quite quickly. Though some days I must admit it is nice being able to be quiet after a gruelling 12 hour shift but I really do miss them pestering me!

“Just the normality of life I miss, coming home, having cuddles and dealing with bed time. It is frustrating not being able to help Shelley out in the evenings. I definitely have the easy end of the stick!”

Andrew waves to his children as they stand on their balcony
Andrew waves to his children as they stand on their balcony

Andrew is able to work a five week rota that allows him to work as a paramedic three weeks out of the five and self-isolate by not leaving his hotel room on the fourth week – meaning he can be reunited with his young children on the fifth.

Though the four weeks they are apart they have had to adapt to life without each other and have been using regular video calls to stay in contact.

Andrew said: “It has been such a worry not being with them, especially as Shelley was not well and in hospital before lock down. As she can’t leave the house I can sometimes pick up food shopping if there is anything they need in between food deliveries and leave outside.

“I also help take the bins out too. She sometimes will leave them outside the main flat entrance so I can pick up and take them down to the shared bin storage.

“We are making do and finding new ways to try and make things as normal as they can be for the children.”

Phoebe and George have been keeping busy drawing and decorating their balcony in chalk rainbows. They also took part in Clap for Carers every week, to show their appreciation for key-workers and NHS heroes across the country. Phoebe was known to go through multiple wooden spoons banging on pots and pans in loud support for her dad.

Andrew said: “As Phoebe is a little bit older she understands why I have to stay away and the important work all mums and dads in the NHS are doing at the moment to help keep everyone safe. Though George doesn’t understand, he has started to realise what it means when I put my green uniform on again and he does cry when I leave – knowing it will be a month before I see him again.”

Andrew, Shelley, George and Phoebe
Andrew, Shelley, George and Phoebe

When responding to patients across London, Andrew has been taking extra precautions: “I make sure to wear full personal protective equipment (PPE) when there is any chance at all a patient may have the virus – just because I know that if I catch it I won’t be going home.”

This year the family are postponing Father’s Day to fit in with Andrew’s five week rota. Andrew and the children will be marking the day with a trip to the local park and a catch up on a months’ worth of missed cuddles.

Andrew added: “I know I am only one small cog in a big system working together to keep everyone safe from this deadly disease – but the sacrifices we are making as a family are definitely worth the while knowing that my little ones are proud of me.”