Family heartbreak after Waterlooville pensioner chokes to death on his Christmas dinner

TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘lovely’ pensioner who died after choking on his dinner on Christmas day.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 6:05 am
Brian Marshall. Picture: Malcolm Wells (190703-3748)

Brian Marshall died surrounded by family at his nephew’s house in Steep Close, Leigh Park.

Family members attempted to dislodge the unknown piece of food by doing the Heimlich manoeuvre, and paramedics tried CPR to save the 72-year-old but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Brian’s sister Mary Hemley, from Cowplain, said the six gathered family members and friends have been distraught since disaster struck at about 4pm.

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Brian Marshall, right, with his late father William at an earlier occasion. Picture: Supplied

‘We had only just sat down for lunch and he was obviously choking on something,’ the 67-year-old said.

‘He looked at me and I could see he was in trouble – I asked if he was alright and he shook his head to say no.

‘He passed out soon after, he wasn't breathing, so my youngest son, who is 40, started doing CPR until the ambulance and air ambulance arrived.

‘They were with us for about 45 minutes but he didn’t make it.’

Just hours before his last meal, a Christmas spread of lamb and roast beef, Brian was mingling with loved ones and exchanging Christmas presents.

Mary is so upset she said she will not celebrate Christmas again for fear of reigniting the tragic memories that followed.

She said: ‘I’m not doing Christmas again. I’ll only do it for my grandchildren.

‘Time is a great healer but what happened is just horrible.’

Brian, a great uncle to Mary’s four grandchildren, lived in Waterlooville from the age of 15.

At 19 he was involved in a lorry accident that left him disabled, but that failed to stop him working as a draughtsman for most of his life.

Mary said: ‘He had a dry sense of humour but always knew how to make people laugh.

‘Brian had been through a lot in his life but had got through all of it – he was a proper fighter and this was such a tragedy.

‘Above everything else he was just a really lovely man and a real character. I don’t think I'll ever get over what happened.’

Brian appeared on the front page of The News on July 5 after he was saved from a kitchen fire in his Waterlooville flat by a Good Samaritan.

Carer Sarah-Louise Page was attending a job in Lavender Road when she heard his fire alarm ringing and saw smoke billowing from his home.

She entered and pulled Brian to safety before phoning the fire service, who put out the hob blaze and minimised the damage inside.

Ms Page was later named the overall winner of The News' 2019 We Can Do It awards for her heroics.

Brian’s family thanked the emergency service personnel who came to his aid.

South Central Ambulance Service confirmed it attended and offered its condolences to Brian's family.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance was also called to the scene.

‘We're all so thankful to them all,’ Mary said.

‘They worked so hard to bring him back and never gave up.

‘Brian will be sorely missed by all of us.’

Mary also thanked social media users for an ‘outpouring’ of support after the incident.