Silence turns to applause as hospital remembers nurse Estrella Catalan

Friends, colleagues and members of Estrella Catalan's family attended the minute's silence at the Norfolk and Norwich...

Friends, colleagues and members of Estrella Catalan's family attended the minute's silence at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. - Credit: NNUH

The family of a Norfolk nurse who died after contracting Covid-19 were joined by hundreds of friends and colleagues to remember her in a minute's silence.

Crowds lined from the emergency department to the plaza of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) on Monday to pay their respects to Estrella Catalan, who died on Friday.

Following the minute's silence, there was a further minute of clapping, for the staff nurse who was described as a "hugely respect, loved and dedicated member of the team".

Mrs Catalan, 52, joined the NNUH in September 2002 working in the hospital's emergency department and in the acute stroke team. She had been receiving treatment for the virus in the hospital's critical care complex.

Her emergency department colleagues described her as the most "caring, conscientious and hardworking person" .

The hospital lowered its flag to half mast in her memory, and friends, family and colleagues laid flowers outside of the emergency department.

Speaking to the hundreds of people who had gathered Sam Higginson, chief executive of the hospital, said: "She touched so many people's lives, she was always kind and supportive of colleagues and will be much, much missed."

Those in attendance described the stillness of the large crowd standing in the snow wishing to pay their respects, and that following the clap Mrs Catalan's ID badge was held up in the air.

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In addition to staff from across the NNUH, first responders from Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS) attended alongside colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and the air ambulance service.

NARS first responder Elaine Bradley, who attended with her colleague Martin Parker, said: "I found it quite tranquil, it was very respectful with lots of people there.

"It was good to see so many people, staff from all the different parts of the NHS. There were so many flowers and a lot of people had brought white flowers as requested. 

"There was a silence and then a minute's clapping. When they were clapping, I think one of the family members held up her ID. It was very touching. She was very well respected."

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, paid their respects to Mrs Catalan.

In a tweet, a hospital spokesman said: "We pay tribute to Estrella Catalan, Emergency Department Staff Nurse, who sadly died this weekend having been unwell with COVID-19.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with Estrella’s family and colleagues at this difficult time." 

A GoFundMe page has raised more than £31,000 and a further £16,000 has been donated to a JustGiving page to support her family.