By Conor Kane
The wife of a 40-year-old farmer who died in an ambulance while on route to hospital in Cork from his native Waterford has spoken of a “quiet, loyal gentle person” who was looking forward to the arrival of their first child later this year.
Tom Power was buried today in Ballygunner on the edge of Waterford city, three days after his death which shocked the nation when it emerged that he was transferred from hospital in Waterford because its catheterisation lab was closed for the weekend.
Mr Power, who got married just last year to his beloved Bernadette, died about 35 minutes into the ambulance journey from Waterford to Cork and his death comes amid ongoing controversy about the lack of round-the-clock cath lab services for heart attack patients in the south-east.
Bernadette Power told hundreds of mourners at his funeral Mass that Tom was her “best friend, soulmate” and the couple were “like two peas in a pod, always a good team”.
He was a loving husband, son to his parents Eileen and Michael, brother to his sisters Catherine and Joan, and uncle, cousin, friend and brother-in-law.
“He was a quiet, loyal, gentle person and never had a bad word to say about anyone. If the phone rang and someone needed a hand, he was there no questions asked.
“He was a fine handsome man and my God wasn’t I a lucky woman when I met Tom. We packed a lot into our years together and enjoyed every single day we had together.”
Tom “loved farming,” she said, having been taught everything he knew by his parents, and in an emotionally-charged address to the congregation she vowed to continue on his farm work, “and make Tom proud of me as I was of him every single day”.
She described him as “a shining light in my heart” and said he will always be with her and their baby, who is due in December. “He was so looking forward to having Santy in the home, but he is magical now.”
The couple were due to move into their new family home shortly and Tom put “so much love” into that home. “Myself and the baby will feel that love every day. We will be there, and he will always be there with us.”
Parish priest Fr Liam Power, who celebrated the funeral Mass along with six other priests, said the nature of Tom’s death had “touched a chord nationally” because of its suddenness and the fact he was in the prime of his life.
“It is indeed unjust, I think, that Tom didn’t have the same opportunity for cardiac care that is available in other parts of the country. Please God Tom’s death may not be in vain and facilites might be put in place to ensure that the people of the south-east will have access to a level of cardiac care that is afforded to citizens in other parts of the country.”
Among the symbols of Tom’s life which were brought to the altar were a wedding photograph, a hat which he wore while out farming, a bird box he made at the men’s shed, and a photo of the scan of the baby due later this year.