Coronavirus: Gosport couple free to marry as shielding for the vulnerable ends

A DAD isolated from the world due to staying at home shielding himself against Covid has said he is ‘free at last’ and will hopefully finally get to marry his fiance.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 4:03 pm

Some 4m clinically vulnerable people have been told they no longer need to stay at home as of today.

Apart from a brief period last summer Gosport man Darren Armistead, 54, has been at home since March last year/

During this period he and his fiance Denise Harris, 49, have twice postponed their wedding.

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Denise Harris and Darren Armistead from Gosport.

Darren said: ‘When the pandemic first took off we were about to go on our stag and hen dos.

‘We were supposed to get married in June last year to coincide with Denise’s birthday.

‘We postponed it to earlier this year but then had to cancel as restrictions meant we could only have six guests.

‘Hopefully we can now go ahead with our new date of July 24 when we will be able to invite far more people.’

Darren Armistead, 54, feels 'free at last' as shielding officially comes to an end on April 1. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Denise added: ‘It has been a very stressful time to cancel our wedding twice and have to ring and re-book all the arrangements. We are keeping our fingers crossed it will be third time lucky and that everything can now go to plan.

‘We are really looking forward to it.’

Production engineer Darren has Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis which compromises his immune system and leaves him vulnerable to Covid.

Denise added: ‘I work as a carer and so it has been really challenging over the last year as I was worried about bringing the virus home.

Nickki Brown and daughter Lana remain cautious about coming out of shielding. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Hopefully with the end of shielding we can now look at getting back to some sort of normality.’

Darren is also now looking forward to reuniting with his son Connor, 29, and his daughter Nicola, 32.

He said: ‘I’m really happy and feel free again. The first thing I’m going to do is go and see my son Connor and my daughter Nicola.

‘We are really close and before the pandemic we used to do a lot together but have had to rely on text messages during lockdown.

‘It has been a really difficult time being confined to my house and not being able to see my family and friends.’

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Darren’s confidence to ‘start living again’ was boosted after receiving his first Covid jab in February and he has already returned to work.

He said: ‘Having my jab felt really good and as I came outside everything suddenly felt a lot brighter.’

However not everyone who has had to shield is feeling as confident about an immediate return to the outside world.

Stubbington mother Nickki Brown, 51, has been shielding her daughter Lana, eight, who suffers with cerebral palsy.

Nickki is particularly cautious about returning to the wider world having tragically lost her 14-year-old daughter Sara Brown to swine flu in 2011.

She said: ‘I’m going to sit tight for the next eight weeks and see what happens with case numbers. As well as my concerns for Lana one of my big fears as a single parent is catching Covid and not being able to look after her.

‘Once I’ve had my second jab we may start to open up a bit more but I think it’s going to take time for everyone to get their confidence back.’

One of Nickki’s biggest concerns is that people will flout Covid guidelines.

She added: ‘Lana has really suffered mentally during lockdown but I don’t feel confident about coming out of shielding just yet and I want to watch and see how people behave and whether case numbers remain low.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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