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Sadness and joy Baby of Covid victim Samantha Willis baptised at her funeral in church where she was married

Fr Joe Clifford, who led the service, said that this was the first time he has conducted a baptism at the same service as a funeral

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Samantha Willis’ husband Josh Willis with their newborn baby EvieGrace after the funeral service at St Columb's Church in Derry. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Samantha Willis’ husband Josh Willis with their newborn baby EvieGrace after the funeral service at St Columb's Church in Derry. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Samantha Willis’ husband Josh Willis with their newborn baby EvieGrace after the funeral service at St Columb's Church in Derry. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Mourners at the funeral service for new mum Samantha Willis, who died from Covid-19 after giving birth, were told of the "deep sadness" within the community and how "death and life were all interwoven".

During the service, at St Columb's Church in Derry, her two-week-old daughter Eviegrace was also baptised.

The 35-year-old died in ICU at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry on Friday after a 16-day battle with Covid-19. Tragically, Samantha never got to hold her newborn baby girl.

Fr Joe Clifford, who led the service, said that this was the first time he has conducted a baptism at the same service as a funeral.

He said that it is rare but "speaks about death and life all interwoven".

"It is sadness and joy all at the same time, but never brought together as close as this. And the joy of baptism of this new life doesn't minimise death, but rather the sadness that brings us here all in the context of faith."

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Josh and Samantha Willis

Josh and Samantha Willis

Josh and Samantha Willis

 

He said Samantha's untimely death was "very much out of order - especially when Samantha birthed forth new life just days ago, it doesn't make sense".

The funeral was in the same church where Samantha wed husband, Josh, two years ago.

Samantha had not been vaccinated against the virus and over the weekend, her husband Josh made an emotional plea to people to get the jab to save having to go through the same trauma. 

Samantha, a care worker, leaves behind three other children, her son Shea and daughters Holly and Lilyanna.

Josh said he has "lost the love of his life" and she was now the family's guardian angel.

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In a Facebook post, he said: "Samantha had put up a strong fight for the last 16 days but in the end it just wasn't enough.

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Tributes were paid to mum Samantha Willis

Tributes were paid to mum Samantha Willis

Tributes were paid to mum Samantha Willis

 

"She did her best to come home to her family and beautiful children and shortly after 12 o'clock in the early hours of Friday morning passed away peacefully in ICU in Altnagelvin Hospital.

"Myself, her mother and two eldest children were by her side. She was in no pain and was comfortable when she slipped away.

"Whilst in hospital she also had to deliver our newest addition to the family who she has never met properly or held in her arms."

Josh said he was determined daughter Eviegrace will know all about her mother.

"I will never let anyone forget you and I will remember all the special times and experiences we shared together," he said.

"The children are now my main priority. All I want to do now is make Samantha proud.

"I'm sure she's already looking down and proud of how we are coping. We are also proud of her, she was a wonderful, loving and caring person and she has been our super hero the last few weeks.

"She is now our guardian angel and she will remain in our hearts and thoughts for ever more.

"We love you loads and miss you. We wish we could only have helped you get home to live the rest of your life with us. I will never stop loving you and we will do our best to make you proud until we see you again."

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