William Shakespeare has died at 81
After a long struggle with an unrelated disease, William Shakespeare, the first man in the world to get an authorised Covid jab, died in hospital at the age of 81.
On so-called V-Day, December 8, Bill, as he was known, made international news when he got the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire.
The retired Rolls Royce employee and parish councillor died last Thursday at the same hospital where he famously got his vaccine following a time of sickness. He is survived by his wife, Joy, two adult sons, and grandchildren.
Much was made of the fact that he was named William Shakespeare and was from Warwickshire at the time, but according to his peers, the pensioner was a fiercely proud Coventrian.
He was an in-patient at the hospital’s frailty ward when he got the Pfizer shot last year. He described the historic medication as ‘wonderful’ after receiving it.
Mr Shakespeare receiving the shot while dressed in his Christmas slippers and hospital gown made front pages all over the country.
Mr Shakespeare was the second person to receive an authorised vaccine, after Margaret Keenan, 91, who received hers moments earlier at the same hospital.
Both were given the Pfizer vaccine, which was developed in the United States and was the first candidate to obtain regulatory approval for widespread use in the United Kingdom in December.
Mr Shakespeare’s pal, Coventry councillor Jayne Innes, wrote on Facebook that the ‘only tribute to Bill is to get the jab.’ Mr Shakespeare will be recalled for several aspects, she continued, “including a taste for mischief.”
During the bleak days of lockout, the poignant picture of him clad in festive slippers with his hospital gown became a sign of home.
Human trials of mRNA vaccines have been underway since early 2020, affecting tens of thousands of individuals around the world, to see whether they were safe and successful before the population got the vaccine.
Mr Shakespeare’s family said in the days after the jab that he was said to be related to the Bard.
Emily Shakespeare, a PhD student at Ireland’s Waterford Institute of Technology, said relatives felt the connection was very probable.
‘About 86 percent confident we are,’ she tweeted at the time. Bill’s ancestors are well-versed in Coventry’s industrial history. And I’ve seen a connection between the Bard’s descendants and the ‘Kerseley branch.’
Ms Shakespeare went on to say that her uncle was ‘English over and through,’ with no Irish links.
His death was mourned not only by his relatives, but also by the many others he came into contact with when news of his death became public.
According to Jayne Innes, a Whoberley ward councillor, he was a “much-loved figure” in the Coventry Labour party who will be fondly remembered.
Over the past 30 years, the Allesley resident has served on the parish council, including 20 years as chairman.
‘He was such a lovely fellow,’ Jayne said, describing him as “a genuine contribution to make his local area better.”
‘Local families would have loved wandering around the trees planted by Bill and his friends in Allesley in the 1980s during the lockout.
‘He was also instrumental in the establishment of Coundon Wood in 2005 and the fundraising for the acquisition of Elkin Wood, which is now owned by the Woodland Trust, in 1997.
‘He was a highly loved figure in the Coventry Labour Party and he will be sadly missed.’
‘Bill has been an involved member for many, many years, especially in Bablake ward where he has walked hundreds of thousands of steps every year campaigning for the party and was an Allesley Parish Councillor,’ said Angela Hopkins, Coventry Labour Party secretary.
‘I’m sure he’ll be missed not only by Bablake families, but also by peers across the electorate and beyond.’
He was a school governor at Allesley Primary School and Coundon Court School, as well as a Rolls Royce employee.
He is survived by his wife Joy, two sons, one of whom is also named William but is addressed as Will, and Julian. He was a proud grandson as well. The funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized.