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reunited Elderly couple (90s) 'overjoyed' to share kiss and hug for first time in months

It was the first time the couple had been reunited without having to see each other through a perspex screen or other barrier.

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Together again: Eddie Burtenshaw embraces his wife Gladys at Hamilton Park Nursing Home in Balbriggan. Photo: Julien Behal

Together again: Eddie Burtenshaw embraces his wife Gladys at Hamilton Park Nursing Home in Balbriggan. Photo: Julien Behal

Together again: Eddie Burtenshaw embraces his wife Gladys at Hamilton Park Nursing Home in Balbriggan. Photo: Julien Behal

It was the moment she had been patiently waiting for since the pandemic broke out last March.

Yesterday, Gladys Burtenshaw (93) was finally able to give her husband of almost 70 years, Eddie (98), a long-awaited hug and a kiss, albeit through a plastic visor.

It was the first time the couple had been reunited without having to see each other through a perspex screen or other barrier.

The couple, from Skerries, Co Dublin, were among the first nursing home residents and visitors in Ireland to be able to use the new Health Passport Europe scheme that allows personal visits for up to two visitors to nursing homes once they have tested negative for Covid-19.

Gladys, who has been holed up alone since the outbreak, wasted no time in getting a shielded kiss from her beloved husband at the Hamilton Park Nursing Home in nearby Balbriggan after jokingly refusing his initial attempt to kiss her hand and insisting he give her a “real kiss”.

“They were absolutely overjoyed to see each other,” their couple’s daughter Susan Burtenshaw said.

“They miss each other terribly.”

The couple, who originally hail from Clontarf and Killester in north Dublin, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary next March 31.

But the outbreak of the virus last spring meant the couple couldn’t even share a tender moment on their last anniversary.

But in the meantime, Susan said it meant the world for her parents to be able to embrace each other again yesterday.

“They had a tender kiss through the screen and there were absolute tears of joy,” she said.

“Once Daddy came out he said ‘I love you Glad’,” she said.

“It was a super moment. They both absolutely loved it.”

While Gladys has been able to visit her husband and meet up with him in pods since June, yesterday marked the first time they could actually meet face to face, she said.

And it just wasn’t the same meeting up with a barrier dividing them, she said.

“It is very hard to talk to your husband through perspex.”

While the couple did try to communicate virtually via telephone and Skype, it was difficult due to Eddie’s hearing issues, she said.

But thanks to the new ‘passport scheme’ they are looking forward to more visits over Christmas and into the New Year.

Under the scheme, Gladys was able to get the results of her Covid test within half-an-hour through the diagnostics firm Sure Rapid Testing which provided the results via a special Health Passport app on her phone.

Susan Campbell, director of operations at the nursing home, said while the home had remained Covid-free throughout the pandemic, the new passport scheme gave an added layer of protection for both residents and staff so families could be reunited safely.

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