TRIBUTES are pouring in from friends and colleagues of St Helens mental health nurse Paul Gaythwaite, who lost his battle with Covid-19.

Caring for older people was Paul’s passion. He was a senior nurse practitioner supporting older people with mental health conditions in the St Helens community, having worked at North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust for 22 years.

Paul, 53, contracted Covid-19 in September. He became seriously ill three weeks ago and was admitted to Whiston Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 18.

Paul leaves behind husband David, who he married three years ago and spent 22 years with.

David and Paul’s friends and family are heartbroken, but very much want to recognise and celebrate Paul in a way they know he would have loved.

Outside of work, Paul loved entertaining his wide circle of friends at his home in Lea Green.

He loved music, films and the theatre and was a huge Blondie fan.

He enjoyed spending time with David in their garden and regularly visited his mum, dad and two sisters in Cumbria, where he grew up.

Some of Paul’s close friends and colleagues shared their memories of Paul as a nurse, a person, and a friend.

Nicky Mercer has been friends with Paul for 13 years: “In all my career, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a more dedicated nurse.

"Paul gave so much of himself and his cheeky sense of humour made him very popular with patients – they asked for him by name as their care coordinator.

“We’ve received so many lovely messages and emails from people. One summed Paul up for me. A student nurse he worked with in the past said ‘Paul will live on and I hope I can be half the nurse he was’.

"I agree and would 100 per cent have Paul nurse my own family which is the highest compliment you can give.”

Julie Murray was one of Paul’s closest friends, having shared a trip to New York with Paul and David: “The way I’d sum Paul up is that he could sometimes be the most grumpy person, with a heart of gold, a wicked sense of humour, he was very generous and I adored him.”

Tanya Worsley was Paul’s line manager, she added: “The thing that stands out for me most was that Paul always took time to ask how you’re doing and he meant it.

"I would look you right in the eyes and genuinely want to know if you are okay. A genuinely gorgeous, caring person.”

Ajit Rughoo trained with Paul in 1992: “We shared a love of vinyl records and thought we’d found a way to make our millions buying rare Elvis vinyls at car boot sales and selling them on, but it turned out we bought the wrong ones! I still have a stash of Elvis records to this day.

“Paul had been hoping to have a reunion with a group of us who trained together and who haven’t all been together for 30 years.

"Sadly, we weren’t able to make this happen, but we’re planning to join together as a guard of honour for Paul’s funeral, which I think he would appreciate.”

Sharon Golding has known Paul for almost 30 years, she said: "Paul made me laugh every day. I have a phone full of silly videos he would make and send to us all. He was one in a million and we were privileged to be his friends.”

Simon Barber, Chief Executive at North West Boroughs Healthcare, said: “On behalf of the Chairman and the whole Trust Board, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for everything Paul has done for us and his patients over the years. It’s very clear he was a dedicated and caring person who loved his job and was adored by his patients, colleagues and friends. He lived and breathed our values and improved the lives of the people he cared for. He will be sadly missed.”