Norfolk social worker dies after contracting swine flu

A social worker from Norfolk who contracted swine flu on New Year’s Eve has died from health complications at the age of 30.

Alison Beales, of North Walsham, who was diabetic, was taken ill with the virus and died in hospital a few days later from pneumonia.

Colleagues at Norfolk Council paid tribute to an “excellent advocate” for adult service users who had always done her best for clients and colleagues since joining the authority’s community care team in August 2006.

Alison was described as friendly, supportive with a lively sense of humour, and people “instantly warmed to her”.

She was not only a valued colleague but “a very dear friend to many”, according to Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services at Norfolk Council.

“We are deeply saddened by Ali’s sudden and untimely death, and I know she will be greatly missed,” he said.

“She would leave no stone unturned to make sure she identified – and met – adults’ needs and those of their carers.

“The many letters and emails of appreciation and thanks from her clients, their carers and other professionals, saying how helpful and professional she was are true testament to that.”

Alison’s mother, Shirley Beales, told the Eastern Daily Press that her daughter’s kind, outgoing nature had been reflected in the stream of condolence cards sent by friends and well-wishers.

“I have had letters from people I don’t even know. She did everything for everybody,” she said.

Councils in England began issuing care workers in frontline posts with a swine flu vaccine at the end of last year. However, social workers are not among the priority groups and Alison had not received the vaccine from her employer.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Council said Alison’s role did not require her to provide personal care to individuals and there was “nothing to suggest that she contracted swine flu through her work”.

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