Tributes have been paid to a granddad who died of COVID-19 just days before his 50th wedding anniversary while his wife lay in a coronavirus ward unable to be with him.

George McDonald had suffered from pancreatitis and was taken into Crosshouse Hospital in October with doctors planning to perform keyhole surgery to remove his gallbladder.

But after being admitted, the 71-year-old tested positive for the virus.

George’s daughter June said this prompted the family to arrange for her mum tested.

Nancy, who had been married to George for over 49 years and lived in Hurlford, tested positive for COVID-19 as well, and after seeming well she developed a fever and became disorientated – an ambulance came and took her to hospital.

June said: “My dad was in the surgical ward, they couldn’t move him.My mother was in a COVID ward. They never got to see one another.”

Hospital stall phoned to tell June and her sisters and brother that their dad was deteriorating.

They said that two family members could come in to be with him, with one of June’s sisters and her brother able to video call from George’s bedside. While George’s condition worsened, Nancy was told she would be discharged from the COVID ward on Tuesday morning.

June said: “I was trying to keep her spirits up, the last thing we wanted was her to give up. We said, ‘he’s a bit worse than you’.”

George passed away on Monday, October 19, he and Nancy had been together since they were teenagers and would have been married for 50 years on October 31.

June asked if the hospital they would allow one of the children in to be with Nancy when she was told her husband had died.

Prestwick-born George and Nancy had made their home in Hurlford, where he was well known in the village.

June said her dad was always the first up to at any function, putting songs on the jukebox and having a laugh.

They never expected the virus to take him away.

Nancy was discharged from Crosshouse and taken home where June’s sister stayed with her, to care for her.

George’s funeral was socially distanced. June said it was awful and against human nature to keep away from your loved ones.

She said: “2020 has been sad and tough for a lot of people but the saddest thing of all is not being able to give your loved ones a hug in times of great sadness.

“Dad, you were a hoot and lived life to the full.

“You did a lot for others and will be sorely missed by all who knew you but most of all you will be missed by all of your family.”