Touching tribute to N&N nurse who died from Covid-19

Estrella Catalan

The family of a 'hugely loved' nurse who died from Covid-19 have been given a cast of her hand as a tribute from a colleague. - Credit: JustGiving

The family of a 'hugely loved' nurse who died from Covid-19 have been given a cast of her hand as a tribute from a colleague who worked with her.

Estrella Catalan, 52, worked as a staff nurse in the emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) before succumbing to coronavirus in February this year.

Mrs Catalan had worked at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for more than 18 years and her death triggered an overwhelming reaction from both members of the public and those that knew her.

Her family have now been given a cast of Mrs Catalan's hand as part of a moving tribute from Sarah Cowles, an assistant theatre practitioner in emergency theatres at the N&N.

Sarah Cowles, an assistant theatre practitioner at the N&N who has made a cast of the hand of Estrella Catalan.

Sarah Cowles, 29, an assistant theatre practitioner at the N&N who has made a cast of the hand of Estrella Catalan in tribute to the staff nurse who died after contracting Covid-19. - Credit: Picture supplied by Sarah Cowles

The mother of three, who also runs Little Owl's Creations a small business which produces 3D hand and feet casts,  said: "After she passed away, I asked a family friend to ask if it was something they would like.

"I've previously casted those that have passed away and wanted them to know it was still possible. It was agreed if I could organise it, then they would love it. 

"I organised taking the cast in the mortuary, which was very emotional after helping to take care of Estrella on the intensive care unit (ITU).

"It was heart-breaking to know we had lost one of our own colleagues."

A cast of Estrella Catalan's hand produced by Sarah Cowles, an assistant theatre practitioner at the N&N.

A cast of Estrella Catalan's hand produced by Sarah Cowles, an assistant theatre practitioner in emergency theatres at the N&N, as part of a tribute to the staff nurse who died from Covid-19. - Credit: Picture supplied by Sarah Cowles

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Mrs Cowles said taking the hand cast was "incredibly emotional" but was honoured to be trusted to carry out the task for Mrs Catalan's family.

She said: "Six weeks later,  I delivered the hand casts to Estrella's husband Melvin.

"It was very emotional as he said "it's really her hand" which is the beauty of what I do. 

"It was an absolute privilege to do and the most rewarding thing to see the family's reaction to these casts."

Mrs Cowles added: "As much as it is heart-breaking, I always hold onto what I give the family back - something they can treasure forever. They can touch it, so its very different to a photograph".

A Requiem Mass was held last month at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich to remember Mrs Catalan.


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