At a home in St Madoes on Friday, a family sat down to Christmas dinner with significantly fewer people around the table than usual. However, one seat was miraculously filled by someone that nobody expected to be there.
When Daphne Shah was taken to Ninewells to be treated for coronavirus in April at the age of 98, her family, including son Wes, admitted they didn’t expect her to be back.
But after just a weekend in the Dundee hospital, Daphne was discharged and welcomed back home with open arms.
And the continual care she has experienced throughout 2020 from NHS Tayside, carers and her family has allowed her to celebrate an even more extraordinary Christmas than most, having fully recovered from the potentially fatal virus.
Daphne’s jaw-dropping recovery has inspired thousands of people around the world, making headlines in her native India and has seen her sent letters from long-lost friends in America and being highlighted as a beacon of hope by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
A devout Christian, Daphne put a large part of her recovery down to her unwavering faith.
Hailing from Chennai, Daphne has been attending online worship sessions with her Hillbank Evangelical Church in Dundee.
For her, Christmas is usually a time where she would be surrounded by many, but this year she is thankful to be spending it with her nearest and dearest.
She said: “I’m feeling perfect. I’ve had the very best care and I’ve been so well looked after.
“I’m going to have a great Christmas with my family.
“It’s always been a special time for me. Back in India, we always celebrated with lots of people.
The Shah family are used to spending Christmas with as many as 20 faces around the table, but this year, restrictions mean only Daphne’s household and support bubble will be attending.
Son Wes says that he had resigned himself to not seeing his mother again when she disappeared in an ambulance at Easter time, let alone watch her turn 99 in July.
Being able to celebrate Christmas with her is an incredible bonus for Wes, an NHS volunteer, who has thanked everyone who has supported his mother along the way.
Now back on her feet, Wes can’t wait to celebrate his mother’s landmark 100th birthday next year.
He said: “We weren’t expecting to be celebrating Christmas together. It’s fantastic.
“For us, Christmas is about presence, rather than presents, and we’re just delighted to have Daphne’s.
“She’s halfway to one hundred now, and she’s doing brilliantly.
“Her recovery couldn’t have been managed without the incredible work from NHS Tayside and her carers, who we would like to thank so much.
“We’ll be thinking of everyone who has helped this year, and more importantly those who have lost their loved ones this year, who I pray for on a daily basis.”