Billington grandad dies of Legionnaire’s Disease

The late Mr Steven Whitehead. (s)
The late Mr Steven Whitehead. (s)
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A 59-year-old Billington man has died from Legionnaire’s Disease following a holiday in Malta.

Steve Whitehead fell ill on December 1st following a week’s holiday with his wife Sue. Steve, who has two children and two step-children, collapsed at home in Billington and was taken to the Royal Blackburn Hospital’s intensive care unit.

He was later transferred to Wythenshawe Hospital where it was confirmed he had Legionnaires’ and after a brave fight against the disease he died on January 6th.

“All untimely deaths such as Mr Whitehead’s are very sad, but it does highlight the need for certain people who may be more at risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease to be extra vigilant and aware of how they can reduce their risks,” Ribblke Valley’s chief environmental health officer Mr Eamonn Roberts explained.

“Environmental health have done a full, detailed investigation of Mr Whitehead’s illness to try to pinpoint where he acquired the infection. We do not believe he became infected locally.”

Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia, caused by bacteria called Legionella which can also cause a mild, flu-like illness called Pontiac fever. This is not usually serious and does not lead to pneumonia.

Correct maintenance of water systems is the best way to prevent Legionnaires’ disease including making sure water systems are cleaned and properly chlorinated.

Steve’s wife Sue said it had been an horrendous time, but she wanted to raise awareness of the disease in the hope it could save a life.

The former nurse, who now works for the out-of-hours doctors’ service, said: “I want to make people more aware so they can protect themselves to their best ability. I want people to have more knowledge.”

Steve, who was originally from Reedley, moved to the Ribble Valley around 20 years ago. An IT specialist at Tulketh Mill, Preston, he loved holidays with Sue with the Lake District and Isle of Man.

“He loved holidays, history, culture and cuisine,” said Sue.

The couple were looking forward to retirement and had booked a special holiday to Sri Lanka in April to celebrate Steve’s 60th birthday.

A Beatles, The Bee Gees and classical music fan, Sue called Steve, a grandad to six who was adored by his colleagues at work, her “gentle giant” and “soul mate”.

The couple were guide dog puppy walkers and donations in Steve’s memory have been made to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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