Tributes have been paid to devoted Norwich nurse, mother and Catholic Cathedral steward Estrella Catalan, who died last Friday at the Norfolk and Norwich hospital where she worked, after a month-long battle against Covid-19.
Emergency Department Staff Nurse Estrella, aged 52, worked in the hospital’s Accident & Emergency and was also an important member of the acute stroke team. Altogether she had worked at the hospital for nearly 20 years, since arriving from the Philippines. Colleagues and friends have flooded social media with touching tributes.
An active member of the St John’s Cathedral parish, where she served as a steward, Estrella leaves behind a husband, Melvin, and sons John and Josh. Their middle son, Vince, sadly died two years ago.
“They are a lovely family,” said Matthew Fernandez-Graham, director of finance and resources for the diocese. “We got to know them through Estrella’s son Josh. She was part of the Filipino team which organised the Sinulog Festival for the Baby Jesus.”
Canon David Paul from St John’s Cathedral said: “Estrella was a really devoted member of the cathedral community. She worked tirelessly to help others. The outpouring of support for her family is testament to how many lives she touched.
“During her last hours, Fr Leo led the rosary with other members of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital nursing team as Fr Simon anointed her. Her passing leaves a hole in the lives of many, but we especially remember her family: we offer our prayers for her husband Melvin and their children, and all who grieve Estrella’s passing. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Just a month ago Estrella gave an emotional interview to the BBC from her hospital bed. “I want to help,” she said. “But I don’t know when. I don’t mind working but I’m here as a patient. I’m helpless.”
Two online fund-raising pages for Estrella and her family have already generated over £47,000 from donors.
Colleague and friend Jenelyn Bales set up one page, which pays tribute to Estrella as ‘the most caring, conscientious and hardworking person a department could ask for. She puts the needs of others first before her own.’
Norfolk and Norwich chief executive Sam Higginson said: “Estrella was a hugely respected, loved and dedicated member of the team and the Acute Stroke Team. She was a wonderful person and a caring and conscientious nurse, who loved to teach and mentor students; she will be terribly missed.
“This is a heart-breaking reminder of the situation we are facing every day to help others and we want to thank our staff for their ongoing courage and commitment during the pandemic.”
To support the family see: www.gofundme.com/f/in-loving-memory-of-estrella-catalan; and www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/estrella-catalan-2021