FRANK Stone is not – at least according to his daughter Tracey – the fittest 96-year-old you will meet. He cannot walk far unassisted, is deaf, has regular falls, a pacemaker and feet issues.
But, says Tracey, he has “the constitution of an ox” and she used to joke with her late mum Cynthia he would “outlive us all”. Never has this long-standing family gag rung more true.
Last Friday, Frank returned to Bourne Wood care home in West Street, Farnham, having become one of the oldest people in the UK to survive a brush with the deadly coronavirus.
It was just after 6.15am on Tuesday, March 17 when Tracey got the call from Bourne Wood to say they had called an ambulance for her dad, and he was being taken to Frimley Park Hospital with breathing difficulties and a nasty cough.
It was the call everybody with elderly parents in a care home dreads, and immediately brought back painful memories for Tracey – having lost her mum in February last year, and shortly before that her partner, both to cancer.
But something was different this time: she was not allowed to sit by her dad’s bedside as he was transported from A&E to the hospital’s private Park Suite and eventually the specialist F5 trauma unit.
Instead, she embarked on a twice-daily search for information over the phone, discovering on March 19 that Frank had, as was feared, tested positive for COVID-19.
Another anxious week followed, after which Tracey received the news her dear dad was being weaned off his oxygen supply and was starting to recover.
Frank was finally discharged last Friday having made a full recovery.
“He is an extraordinary case,” Tracey said. “Dad is not a fit, active 96-year-old, and he’s not even as fit looking as the gentleman who is now the oldest man in the world down in Alton.
“He walks with a walker. He’s had falls, he’s had other medical issues, but he’s come through it all. He defies all medical science!”
With Frank now in isolation, and his care home in lockdown, her only face-to-face conversation with her dad after his miraculous recovery has been a brief chat through the open window of his ground-floor apartment.
Tracey, who works for Teamsport Karting in the Coxbridge Business Park, herself went into self-isolation after her dad’s diagnosis, but has to date experienced no symptoms.
She praised the staff at Bourne Wood care home for doing a “fantastic job” in trying circumstances to keep residents safe – but reserved a special thanks for the “amazing work that Frimley Park are doing, along with all the NHS staff over the country to get us through this unprecedented time.”
Bourne Wood care home declined to comment.