A former rugby player and popular football fan, Employee Admiral, 40, was previously fit and healthy, a devoted father to Joshua, 10, James, 7, and Jessica, 4.
When the Unimaginable happened less than three weeks later, her close-knit family was left in shock. A wave of love and heartbreak came from the community around them, raising over £ 16,000 in just a few short weeks to try and help those left behind.
Today, days after Wales marked a year since losing their first coronavirus victim, Brian’s family paid tribute to a man who was ‘always smiling’.
“Everyone who knew him said how nice he was. He was always happy, always smiling, ”said Brian’s sister, Sian.
“He loved rugby and supported his football teams, Man United and Cardiff City. He played rugby for the Llandaff North RFC, the youth and adult team, but quit once he had children.
“We couldn’t have a big funeral, but they drove a long way and all the rugby boys got out on Station Road. They were all on the sidewalk, socially distant, clapping as the hearse passed. ”
Known as BopBop by his friends and family for his dance moves and for “talking with his hands” after a drink, Brian was a true family man.
After growing up in Fairwater, he moved to Creigiau with his wife Nadia and Nadia’s parents, but often saw siblings Sian, Mark and Laura and parents Lesley and Vincent.
When Sian married Brian’s best friend David, the group grew even closer, with the family spending countless occasions together.
In a heartbreaking turn of events, Nadia’s father Raymond Fettah died of coronavirus just 18 days after Brian died on January 10, leaving Nadia and her mother with three young children.
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Sian, 39, said: “Brian got sick the week before Christmas. He went on Christmas Eve just thinking they were going to give him some oxygen or something. On Christmas Day we got a phone call to say they were going to ventilate him as they wanted his body to recover and he died on the 10th.
« [The staff] were all amazing but it was such a strange time. You can’t visit and you rely on the nurses calling and talking to you to give you an update and they are incredibly busy. You are in a bit of limbo. Because he was on a ventilator, he couldn’t text to say he was okay.
“My mother and Nadia were called, but by the time they got there he was gone.
“My husband said he would never celebrate Christmas again now that he lost his best friend. It will be difficult for the next few years. ”
In the weeks following Brian’s death, Sian said the family had been overwhelmed with support, including from Brian’s employers at Admiral who have kept in touch to offer help.
Previously, Brian had also worked at Coral, fostering his love of horse racing and befriending the older clients he met due to his chatty nature.
Eagerly, Sian said she and her family will try to focus on the happy memories they shared with Brian, as well as put her young family first.
The money raised by the GoFundMe page will be used for the future of her children, Sian added.
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In addition to the financial support, the comments on the fundraising page are also a testament to how Brian remembers. Reviews describe him as a “true gentleman who always made everyone feel happy and welcomed” as well as “one of the good guys whose smile lights up a room”
A “loving and loving father,” Brian will also be remembered as a “wonderfully loyal friend to all” known “to keep everyone laughing with his sharp wit. ”
Sian said, “The kids were close to their dad and grampy, they were all daddy’s kids.
“Nadia is only 38 years old and finds herself with three children, it’s a shock. If it wasn’t for them it would be another story, but we have to put them first.
“We are a pretty close family, so we organize a lot of meetings.
“Last year Brian was 40 years old. He said last year that I’m not celebrating my 40th, I’m pushing it back for a year because I can’t celebrate locked out. Obviously he won’t do it this year. We’ll have to do it for him.
“There was nothing not to like about him. ”