Mother’s grief as mystery virus claims life of ‘little rogue’ son

The family of a father who suddenly died after catching an unknown virus is raising awareness of his shocking death.

John Wildish, known as Danny, passed away at the age of 46 on March 16.

jpco-29-5-13 Kirsty and Haley will do a 10k run to raise money for Encephalitis society (Pic by Jon Rigby)

jpco-29-5-13 Kirsty and Haley will do a 10k run to raise money for Encephalitis society (Pic by Jon Rigby)

He was part of a family that has been in Crawley for six generations and lived in West Green for much of his life until he moved to Leeds four years ago, where his funeral was held.

His mother Valerie Phelps, 62, from Pound Hill, will hold a memorial at St John the Baptist’s Church, in the town centre, on Friday May 31 at 3.15pm.

Valerie said the unknown virus only took two weeks to take Danny’s life.

She said: “He called me and said he felt achy and couldn’t get warm - flu like symptoms.

“That was only a couple of days before.

“The morning he went to hospital he was incoherent and had lost part use of one arm.

“That’s when they called the ambulance. By the time the ambulance arrived minutes later, he had gone into a comma.”

Danny was kept on life support for two weeks before he died.

Valerie said: “I got there just in time to hold him in my arms as he passed away.”

She added: “We don’t know how he caught it or what the virus is.

“We’ve got no answers. We’ve got no closure.”

The virus caused encephalitis, a condition where the brain tissue becomes inflamed - the cause in more than 50 per cent of cases is unknown.

Valerie said she expected hundreds of people to attend the memorial as Danny was ‘a magnet’ to others and he ‘would give anybody the last penny in his pocket’.

She said: “He could just walk into a room and light it up with his laugh and his antics.

“He was a little rogue at times but he was our rogue and it didn’t matter.”

Danny leaves a 17-year-old daughter, sister Leasa Chappell, 42, and two brothers Kevin Wildish, 44, and Neil Phelps, 38.

Valeire’s granddaughters - Danny’s nieces - Haley Rutter, 26, from Broadfield, and Kirsty Phelps, 26, from Maidenbower, will be taking on the 10k London Run on July 14 to raise money for Encephalitis Society in memory of their uncle.

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