A UK man named William Shakespeare, the first man in the world to have received an approved COVID vaccine, has died in hospital aged 81 after suffering a stroke. Shakespeare died on Thursday at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.
Bill, as he was popularly known, made history on December 8 when he received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID jab at the University Hospital Coventry shortly after 91-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first woman to receive the vaccine. Interestingly, Shakespeare died at the same hospital where he had taken the jab. Coventry councilor Jayne Innes, a friend of Shakespeare, said that the "best tribute to Bill is to have the jab".
Shakespeare, a former Rolls Royce employee and parish councilor passed away from a stroke last Thursday. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust said that he was suffering for the past few weeks. Shakespeare leaves behind his wife Joy, their two adult sons and four grandchildren.
Shakespeare, who had lived in Brownshill Green, was an inpatient on the hospital's frailty ward at the time of his first jab, and said it had been "wonderful". 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."
Tributes Pour In
Upon his death, tributes poured in for Shakespeare, who was remembered fondly as a "much-loved figure" in the Coventry Labour Party. Innes, who worked closely with Shakespeare, said he was a "keen photographer, loved jazz and socializing, and also loved the natural world and gardens." He was also involved in planting hundreds of trees in Coundon Wedge, Allesley and the creation of Coundon Wood.
Shakespeare had also served as a Governor at Coundon Court Secondary School for more than two decades. He also 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 his wife. "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."
On December 8, a photograph of Shakespeare receiving the COVID jab wearing a pair of Christmas slippers and his hospital gown made front pages across the world. Interestingly, Shakespeare is also believed to be related to the Bard, according to claims made by his family just days after he received the shot.
His niece Emily Shakespeare, a PhD candidate at Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, said relatives thought the connection was quite likely. In fact she at the time had also tweeted: "Around 86 percent 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."
Reminiscing Shakespeare, Coventry Labour Party secretary Angela Hopkins said how he "walked hundreds of thousands of steps every year campaigning for the party." "I know that he will be greatly missed not only by members, but by colleagues across the constituency and beyond," she said.
Shakespeare's funeral is not yet arranged.