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We may never get the answers over why Mo died from virus

Lillian 'Mo' Butt had spent a lifetime serving London's cabbies in a green hut stop

10 May, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Lillian Butt was known as Maureen or Mo

A WOMAN who spent a lifetime serving up fry-ups and hot drinks to cab drivers has died from the coronavirus, leaving relatives wondering if she was infected in her care home.

Lillian Butt, better known as Maureen, or Mo, died at the University College Hospital last month.

Her family had not visited her at the Ash Court Care Home in Kentish Town for nearly three weeks before she fell ill due to advice on shielding the vulnerable. Ms Butt had lived for decades in the Ampthill Estate, near Mornington Crescent, working opposite it as waitress at the old Granby Grill cabbies’ cafe. Later, she ran her own business from the green cabmen’s shelters in Russell Square and Charing Cross.

Her son Anthony Butt, 45, said: “The family hadn’t been able to go and see her for around two and half weeks because of the lockdown, and then she suddenly got it. Did she get it from here? Should there have been wearing masks and gloves? Were there extra precautions?”

“We strongly believe she got it there [at the care home]. There are so many questions about how she died, and we’re not sure if we’ll even get answers.”

Ms Butt suffered symptoms and was diagnosed with the virus. She was taken to UCLH but died on April 11.

She had been living at the care home in Ascham Street after being discharged there following a seven-month stay at the same hospital last year, where she had battled back from major complications from perforated intestines.

She had spent three months in intensive care and had fought back from an induced coma, three ventilator machines, pneumonia and feeding tubes. There had been hope she might be able to go home, before she was struck down with the coronavirus.

Mo’s old cabbies hut

Mr Butt said: “We had many a conversation already about how she was not going to pull through during those time, but on every occasion she proved them wrong. She was a bit like that Catherine Tate nan, she had that fight about her.”

Mr Butt said his mother was a “calm and likeable character” and told how he could get in any cab in London and the driver would know his mother. He recalled how she once agreed to let celebrity chef Jamie Oliver film an TV advert from her shelter, despite “not having a clue who he was”.

He said: “She’d always been in Camden, in council flats. She didn’t have much money. I think it was because of that she would notice those that were less fortunate than her. She always had time for the homeless, and she would give them a cup of tea.

“She was called Lillian but for all her life she called herself Maureen or Mo, no one knew why.”

Mr Butt added: “She’d never venture outside Camden really. Even to go past Chalk Farm to Swiss Cottage that would be like a different place to her. Camden High Street was her world really. She’d sit in the Costa, opposite Koko watching the world go by. That’s what she liked do.”

A spokesman for the Ash Court Care Home, which is run by the company Forest Healthcare, said: “Staff are taking extra precautions when caring for them to ensure that any possible infection is contained. Clearly, this is a difficult infection to manage, particularly in an environment where you have personal care and a high proportion of residents are classed as vulnerable, but we will continue to follow best practice and government protocol to minimise the potential for a wider spread within the home.”

He added: “Our thoughts are with Lillian’s family and friends at this difficult time and everyone who has lost loved ones during this pandemic.”

Ms Butt’s funeral is next Wednesday at the Islington Crematorium in East Finchley. She leaves behind her two sons John and Anthony Butt, and four grandchildren.

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