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Former Armagh Lord Mayor Mealla heartbroken after losing darling dad to ‘cruel hand of Covid’

Mealla Campbell with her dad Dessie Bratton

The former Lord Mayor of Armagh Mealla Campbell has been left heartbroken after the loss of her father which she blamed on the “cruel hand of Covid”.

Dessie Bratton passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital today (Monday).

He was 88 years of age.

Daughter Mealla had been Lord Mayor when the coronavirus pandemic was declared. She led ABC Council through some extremely difficult times as it worked to oversee and encourage a community response to Covid-19 to help bring support to those who needed it, businesses and individuals and those who found themselves dependant on the goodwill of others due to self-isolation and shielding.

Just last month it was confirmed that Mealla was stepping down from ABC Council.

This evening, she confirmed the loss of her dear dad, who had been a resident of Collegelands Nursing Home.

He passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital, according to a funeral notice, “under the excellent care of the nurses and doctors in 2 south”.

Mealla paid tribute to her father in a poignant and fitting social media post as she posted a picture holding his hand.

She wrote: “The hand I hold

“This is the hand that held me as a newborn

“The hand that fed me

“The hand that picked me up when I fell

“The hand that held me over his head – again and again

“The hand that walked me into school on the first day

“The hand that healed all hurts

“The hand that pulled me out of the pool when I won my first race

“The hand that eased my broken heart

“The hand that led me down the aisle

“The hand that kept my children safe

“This is the hand I hold

“Your hand that I held as I watched you cling to life and struggle to breathe and yet I am blessed to have had this opportunity for many have not.

“Yet still, I am angry that the cruel hand of Covid has taken what we need the most. The chance to console and be consoled, to comfort and to be comforted and even to just be present.

“I hope you sense me with you as you take your final journey.

“In my heart forever this is now my hand holding yours Mealla (Meeps) x”.

She ended her tribute with three words encouraging people to do their bit to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 – a simply reminder: “Face. Space. Hands.”

Offering his sympathies to his SDLP colleague was Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty.

He said: “My sympathies are with my friend Mealla on the sad loss of her dear Father Dessie Bratton RIP.

“It is terribly sad to lose a parent but at this time it is especially traumatic.”

Mr Bratton, who was predeceased by son Emlyn and daughter Rebecca, is survived by his wife, Sheelagh, daughter Mealla, son Michael and a wider family circle.

A private burial service will take place in St Patrick’s Cemetery in Armagh tomorrow (Tuesday), at 4pm.

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