Barry and Heidi Volkwijn Picture: Supplied
Barry and Heidi Volkwijn Picture: Supplied

Family 'trying to make sense' after couple die hours apart of Covid-19

By Chevon Booysen Time of article published Jun 24, 2020

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Cape Town – Messages of condolence continued to pour in for blind community activists Heidi and Barry Volkwijn who died from Covid-19.

The couple died on Saturday, just hours apart, after being admitted to Constantiaberg MediClinic with respiratory complications last week. Their 19-year-old daughter, Amy, also tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating.

Family spokesperson Brehndan Botha said the family was in shock.

“Barry was admitted to hospital on June 10 after a couple of days of showing symptoms. He had breathing difficulties. For our family, this was our first direct connection with the virus.

“The day after Barry was admitted, Heidi had started experiencing symptoms as well. She and Amy both got tested and while Amy showed much milder symptoms and could self-isolate, Heidi was also admitted to hospital. 

"On Friday, Heidi and Barry spent their 21st wedding anniversary sedated in hospital in different wards,” said Botha.

He said that although the family realised the seriousness of the virus, “we could not have expected the outcome to be the one that it was”.

“Barry died on Saturday morning and while we as a family mourned, we hoped that Heidi would pull through and thought of the impact this would have on their daughter who lost her dad a day before Father’s Day. 

"Later on Saturday afternoon, we received our second blow for the day when we got the news of Heidi’s passing.

“As a family we are trying to make sense of something so unusual and the impact of it all really pulls at one’s heartstrings. It was a highly emotional and intense weekend,” Botha said.

The couple met at the League of Friends of the Blind (Lofob) NGO where Heidi held the position of manager for Services to Youth and Adults.

Lofob’s executive director Dr Armand Bam shared his condolences with Amy and the Volkwijn family.

“Both Barry and Heidi will always be remembered for their contributions to the development of the organisation and the clients we serve. As a member of our management team, Heidi will be sorely missed. May they rest in peace,” Armand said.

Lofob executive committee member, Philip Bam said the couple “lived an exemplary life, raising their sighted daughter Amy”.

Of Heidi, Bam said: “She was a person of tremendous courage. Heidi was one of those persons who had no sight and yet, no lack of vision. 

"She had a vision for the future but sadly, Covid-19 robbed her community of so much that she had to offer. She will be remembered as a hard-working person.”

Cape Times

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