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Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021

First man in world to get approved Covid jab is dead: Brit William Shakespeare dies at 81 from a stroke after long illness

First man in world to get approved Covid jab is dead: Brit William Shakespeare dies at 81 from a stroke after long illness

William Shakespeare hit global headlines on December 8 after becoming first man in the world to be jabbed . Mr Shakespeare died at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire from illness unrelated to the virus. His family had been thrilled at the fame he enjoyed after getting the American-made Pfizer Covid vaccine.
William Shakespeare, the first man in the world to have an approved Covid jab, has died in hospital aged 81 after suffering a stroke.

Bill, as he was known, made global headlines on so-called V-Day on December 8 when he received the Pfizer/BioNTech jab at the University Hospital Coventry.

The former Rolls Royce employee and parish councillor passed away from a stroke last Thursday, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said, after a period of illness at the same hospital where he famously received his vaccine. He leaves behind his wife Joy, their two adult sons and four grandchildren.

At the time of his jab, much was made of the fact that he was called William Shakespeare and was from Warwickshire, but the pensioner was a fiercely proud Coventrian, according to his friends.

Paying tribute to her husband, Joy, 53, said: 'Bill was so grateful for being offered the opportunity to become one of the first people in the world to be given the vaccine. It was something he was hugely proud of - he loved seeing the media coverage and the positive difference he was able to make to the lives of so many.

'He often talked to people about it and would always encourage everyone to get their vaccine whenever he could.'

She added: 'Bill had the most wonderful care at the hospital. Absolutely wonderful. All of the staff were so caring, compassionate and respectful and we couldn't be more grateful. They are an absolute credit to their profession and the NHS.'

Bill, born in Coventry, served as a Parish Councillor for over 30 years at Allesley Parish Council and as a Governor at Coundon Court Secondary School for more than two decades. He was also involved in planting hundreds of trees in Coundon Wedge, Allesley and the creation of Coundon Wood.

He helped with the local fundraising to purchase Elkin Wood, now managed by The Woodland Trust.

'Bill loved meeting people and helping them in any way possible,' said Joy. 'Most of all he was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, nicknamed Pop Pops by the grandchildren. He left a huge imprint on everyone who knew him and will be greatly missed.'

He was a long-term patient at the Coventry hospital's frailty ward. He was an in-patient on the ward when he received his vaccine in December, which he described as 'wonderful'.

A picture of Mr Shakespeare receiving the shot while wearing a pair of Christmas slippers and his hospital gown made front pages around the world.

Mr Shakespeare was the second person to get an approved vaccine after Margaret Keenan, 91, got hers at the same hospital moments earlier.

Both received the Pfizer vaccine, after the US firm became the first jab candidate to seal approval for mass use by regulators in the UK in December.

Thousands of men and women were given the vaccine during trials that began in early 2020 to study its safety and efficacy before being rolled out to the public.

Coventry councillor Jayne Innes, who was a friend of Mr Shakespeare, said in Facebook post that the 'best tribute to Bill is to have the jab'. She added that he would be remembered for many things, 'including a taste for mischief'.

The poignant image of him dressed in festive slippers with his hospital gown became a symbol of home amid the dark days of lockdown.

Mr Shakespeare had been believed to be related to the Bard, his family claimed in the days after the jab.

His niece Emily Shakespeare, a PhD candidate at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, said relatives thought the connection was very likely.

She tweeted at the time: 'Around 86 per cent sure we are. Bill's ancestors closely follow Coventry's past with the industry there. And I have glimpsed a connection with the 'Kerseley branch' of the Bard's descendants.'

Ms Shakespeare added that her uncle was 'English through and through', and there was no link to Ireland.

His sad death was being mourned not only by his family but the many people he came into contact with today as news of his passing was revealed.

He was a 'much-loved figure' in the Coventry Labour party according to Jayne Innes, Whoberley ward councillor, and one who will be fondly remembered.

The Allesley resident had been a parish councillor for 30 years, of which he was chairman of the parish council for 20 years.

'He was such a lovely man, one who had a real commitment to making his local area better,' said Jayne.

'During lockdown local families will have enjoyed walking amongst the trees planted by Bill and his colleagues in Allesley back in the 1980s.

'He was also very involved with the creation of the Coundon Wood in 2005 and in fundraising for the purchase of Elkin Wood, now managed by the Woodland Trust in 1997.

'Bill was a life-long campaigner, so he was delighted to be able to help encourage everyone to have the vaccine in order to return to all the things we enjoy in life. I've had my first. Having our jabs is the best tribute we can all pay Bill.

'He was a keen photographer, loved jazz and socialising, and also loved the natural world and gardens. Bill will be remembered for many things including a taste for mischief.

'He was a much respected figure in the Coventry Labour Party and he will be sorely missed.'

Angela Hopkins, Coventry Labour Party secretary, added: 'Bill has been an active member for many, many years, particularly in Bablake ward where he has walked hundreds of thousands of steps every year campaigning for the party and was an Allesley Parish Councillor.

'I know that he will be greatly missed not only by members in Bablake, but by colleagues across the constituency and beyond.'

He used to work at Rolls Royce and was also a school governor at Allesley Primary School, as well as at Coundon Court School.

He leaves behind his wife Joy, two sons, one also called William but known as Will, as well as Julian. He was also a proud grandfather. Funeral details have yet to be arranged.

So-called V-Day saw Britain national vaccination drive launch at 70 UK hospitals on December 8, with most doses given to the over-80s and extremely unwell people.

Day one saw around 5,000 people vaccinated, including the elderly, care home staff and NHS workers.

Mr Shakespeare and Mrs Keenan were two of about 100 people vaccinated on the first day of the rollout at Coventry.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock sobbed on live television watching footage of the pair having their jabs.

Britain was the first country in the West to start jabbing people with Covid vaccines after approving the Pfizer vaccine even before the US, where it was developed.

In the six months that have followed, about 38.2million Britons have been given at least one dose of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or more recently Moderna's vaccines. More than 23.2million people in the country are now fully vaccinated.

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