Jason Cowling, 41, from Benwick, died in Peterborough City Hospital just before Christmas - the very hospital for which he and his brother Nathan and fellow lorry driver Danny Whitmore had raised nearly £20,000 for in May 2020 with a massive truck convoy through the Fens.
Many of those same truck drivers lined up to take Jason on his final journey as they joined Nathan and Danny in a convoy of lorries behind his hearse as it left the family firm’s lorry depot in Ramsey Mereside on Tuesday (January 18) last week.
Around 22 trucks joined the funeral cortege as it headed to the St Thomas a Beckett Church in Ramsey for the funeral service. Nathan was driving Jason’s truck, which carried a heart shaped wreath while Danny, who has now joined Cowling Brother’s Haulage and has taken on driving Jason’s truck for the firm, was in Nathan’s.
Officiated by the Rev Iain Osborne the service included family tributes from Jason’s daughter Jade and his mum Sue.
The service which included music for reflection: ‘Daddy’s little girl’ by The Shires and ‘I’ve lost my guardian angel’ by Nino de Angelo was broadcast to those gathered on the green outside the church who were unable to be inside.
Afterwards the convoy left the church for the Fenland Crematorium in March taking Jason on a route that first past the school he attended in Benwick and then on past both the family home where he grew up with his parents Sue and David and then the home he shared with his wife Lisa and daughters, Jade and Kara.
It is unclear how Jason caught Covid but one theory is he picked up when he stopped at a service station for food on the M5 after a delay dropping off a load meant he had run out of the supplies he normally relied on in his truck.
Heartbroken Sue said: “The Covid took him so quickly - in just a week.”
The family believe a very lengthy delay in finding Jason a hospital bed on the night he became seriously ill contributed to his death.
Sue said: “He was originally taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon where he sat in the ambulance for many hours before being transferred to Peterborough, where he again had to wait before eventually getting the treatment he needed.
“We were speaking to him on the phone, but we weren’t allowed to see him and he was really scared, but also grateful for the treatment he was getting.”
But sadly Jason died at 7.30pm on Friday December 10 at the same hospital where he and his fellow truckers had raised so much money for, as a thank-you for the incredible job the NHS staff were doing at the start of the pandemic.
Sue added: “All these people who are refusing to wear masks and not have the booster jab are really stupid.
“It can strike anyone at any time and you never know how it will affect you. Jason’s wife Lisa and daughters both tested positive, but were not ill - so it just shows you.
“Jason was a kind hearted, full of life person. He was loveable, full of fun and adored his wife and girls. He was a fantastic husband and son and we are still trying to come to terms with what has happened.
“We know we will never get him back, he will be a big hole in our family. He worked with his dad David and brother Nathan and I spoke to him every single day. He really will be missed by everyone who knew him.
“Since his death we have been inundated by cards and flowers and messages of sympathy, nearly 140 drivers wanted to join the funeral convoy, but unfortunately we had to keep the numbers down - we have been overwhelmed by just how popular Jason was, and it has been a real comfort to us. It was especially comforting to see all the drivers turn out for the funeral and we are truly grateful to them - it was a really fitting send off for our boy.”