Tributes for 'brave, lovely and hard working' Burnley mum of five who has died of Covid 19 at the age of 42

A Burnley mum of five has died at the age of 42 after a courageous battle against Covid 19.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 11:03 am
Karen with her three daughters Jessica (back) and Lauren and Ellie May.

And the family of Karen Birtwell, whose children are aged between 19 and six, have paid heartfelt and moving tributes to her and vowed she will 'never be forgotten.'

Karen's daughter Jessica, who is 16, said: "Mum was so lovely and hard working and had so many friends.

" She will never be forgotten, especially by her children."

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Karen with her husband Peter

Karen was also mum to sons Jack (19), 13-year-old Lewis and daughters Lauren (eight) and six-year-old Ellie May.

Karen died in Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital where she had spent the last five weeks of her life.

She was originally taken into the Royal Blackburn Hospital in February suffering from breathing difficulties.

Medics came over from Wythenshawe and Karen was given treatment on an ECMO machine, specialist equipment which pumps blood from the patient's body to an artificial lung that adds oxygen to it and removes carbon dioxide, so in effect replacing the function of the person's own lungs.

Karen with her eldest son Jack who is 19.

Karen was then transferred to Wythenshawe where she was later diagnosed with emphysema and Covid 19.

Karen's former partner, Alex Catterall, paid tribute to her as a "strong woman and a fighter."

He said: "Karen had been so through so much with her health problems and was in hospital 15 times in the last two years.

"But she was always such a strong person, a real fighter and so brave."

Karen and Peter with children Lewis, Lauren and Ellie May.

Alex also praised medical staff for the care they gave to Karen, saying: "They tried everything they could to save her and we are so grateful to them."

Originally from the Pendle area, Karen attended the former Park High School in Colne.

Karen spent most of her working life in various NHS auxiliary and care roles, including looking after the elderly at several different care homes.

Karen also worked for a time at the ENT department at Burnley's St Peter's Centre, but she had always dreamed of becoming a qualified nurse.

And last year that dream was starting to come true as she began a degree course in mental health at Burnley College.

Karen, who enjoyed socialising with her wide circle of friends, met and married her husband Peter (39) eight years ago.

The devoted couple enjoyed their family holidays and their favourite destinations were Benalamadena and Fuengirola in Spain.

Karen also leaves her mum Janet, a brother Andrew and sister Teresa.

The response to a fund raising page set up by Alex to help the family has been overwhelmiing with £2,869 raised in just three days.

Alex said: "This shows how well known and loved Karen was and how much she will be missed."

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by clicking here.Karen's funeral will take place on Tuesday, June 2nd, at Burnley Crematorium at 1-45pm and will include a white horse drawn carriage.

A live link will also be set up so those who cannot attend can say their final goodbyes to Karen.

The link is with login / Order ID: 32433

and password:gfnbagam.