INSPIRATIONAL DAD: Son of much loved Prenton man inspired to make a difference
The son of a hard-working and generous restauranter who died of Covid-19 last Easter Sunday, said his father has inspired him to make a difference.
Shabil Syed, 40, from Prenton, told the LDRS that his dad Ansaf’s death at the age of 66 was very difficult, but that he was “much-loved” in the community.
Ansaf had a heart condition, which Shabil says contributed to his death, but in his everyday life Ansaf was still fit and healthy until shortly before April 12, 2020.
Wanting to live by Ansaf’s example, Shabil decided to become a volunteer vaccinator with St John’s Ambulance, something he has now completed training for.
Shabil recalled his father’s last days. He said: “My dad was in isolation from the Thursday, through the Friday and Saturday.
“On Saturday night I spoke to him for the last time [through FaceTime]. It was like he almost knew he was going to die.
“He said we should remember five things. Always love yourself, have self-belief, make sure you don’t harm others, help others and show the world what you’re made of.
“On Sunday morning at 6.30am we got the phone call to say he had had a heart attack and an ambulance was on its way.
“We went round and looked through the window, everybody was in an emotional state.
“The paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but they just couldn’t.”
Ansaf came to the UK from Bangladesh in 1966.
When he arrived on the Wirral he became a restauranter, opening The Rani in New Brighton in 1972 and Mak Syed in Wallasey Village more than 30 years ago.
More recently, just four years ago, both Ansaf and Shabil helped set up the Wirral Deen Centre, an Islamic organisation open to everyone.
Shabil added: “He was a really community minded person, he would always help people. When we set up the Wirral Deen Centre, the name was his idea.
“He wanted to distribute food and wealth. He was very generous and much-loved in the community, he wanted to make the Deen Centre a very inclusive organisation.
“My dad would speak to people living on the street like they were his son or nephew. He was a caring man.”
Ansaf’s hard working nature meant that even in his later years when his family were advising him to take life more easily, he still wanted to be at work helping others.
Shabil added: “After he passed away I started a campaign to make the BAME [black and ethnic minority] community more aware of the virus.
“Some have multi-generational households with children, teenagers and older people.
“I made a video giving advice on how to reduce the risk to the elderly people.”
Shabil is standing as the Labour candidate for Eastham in this May’s Wirral Council elections.
But due to the lockdown, it is not possible to campaign as normal, so Shabil decided he could make a difference another way.
He added: “Rather than [campaigning] I thought I would volunteer with St John’s Ambulance.
“We are at war with the virus, lots of people we know of have suffered. My sister-in-law’s mum passed away with covid in London.
“There are real people we know of dropping left, right and centre.”
After a few weeks of training, Shabil’s application has been accepted and he will be doing his first vaccinations in around three weeks.
“I am just happy to do my bit. I’ve trained for it, done the online learning and the face-to-face training.
“We’ll be working with healthcare professionals and there’s a lot to it, it’s a big operation.
“If I can do my part in winning the war against covid then i’ll be very happy.”
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV