Family's heartbreak as Yorkshire pensioner dies from legionnaires' disease after holiday to Bulgaria

Brian Taylor contracted legionnaires' disease while on holiday - and never got the chance to "say goodbye" to his wife.
Brian Taylor, 75, died after contracting legionnaires' disease from a hotel in Bulgaria. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)Brian Taylor, 75, died after contracting legionnaires' disease from a hotel in Bulgaria. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)
Brian Taylor, 75, died after contracting legionnaires' disease from a hotel in Bulgaria. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)

A pensioner died from legionnaires' disease after taking a week-long hotel break to Bulgaria.

Brian Taylor, 75, died from bacterial pneumonia, which was spread through the air conditioning at the resort he was staying in. His family said the doting husband never got to 'say goodbye' to his wife Nancy Sykes-Taylor, who has dementia and whom he had visited every day in a care home.

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During that period, two other people also went down with flu-like symptoms after their stay at the three-star Hotel Kalofer, on the Black Sea, in June 2019.

A few days later, he was rushed to hospital where he spent 25 days in intensive care battling legionnaires' disease before he died. His family, and the two others who were affected, took legal action against holiday provider Jet2holidays.

Five years on, the travel agent, which denies liability, has agreed undisclosed out-of-court settlements with all parties. Speaking after the decision, Brian’s stepson, Martin Farrell, 62, said nothing would compensate for the loss of the much-loved member of the family.

He said: "Brian was very independent, and very fit and active for his age. He enjoyed holidaying as well as bowling and walking to the local club on a Saturday. He adored my mum and would visit her every day. When I saw him after he returned from Bulgaria, I couldn’t quite believe how poorly he was.

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"Even more than four years on it remains difficult to comprehend how he had gone on holiday and just over a month after returning had died. The hospital did everything they could to help Brian, but he went downhill so quickly. The hardest thing to accept is that he never got to say goodbye to mum.

"Nothing can ever make up for what our family have been through, but we just hope that by speaking out others are aware of the signs and symptoms of legionnaires’ disease and how serious it is."

Brian Taylor with wife Nancy Sykes-Taylor. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)Brian Taylor with wife Nancy Sykes-Taylor. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)
Brian Taylor with wife Nancy Sykes-Taylor. (Picture: Irwin Mitchell)

Brian, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, took the short trip to the Black Sea resort in the summer of 2019 after his wife Nancy, 84, had gone into a care home. Shortly after he returned from the holiday on June 17, 2019, Martin, from Chesterfield, Derbyshire, went to stay with his stepdad, as he did each week.

But he found that Brian had developed flu-like symptoms and a high temperature - and was shaking as if he was bitterly cold. Martin travelled back home the following day but called his stepdad to check in on him later that night, who told him he had been to see his GP.

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He then called Brian around tea-time on June 21 to see if he was feeling any better, and also asked his son, who lived locally, to check if he was ok.

However, during that time Brian had collapsed and was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance. He spent 25 days in the intensive care unit where he was diagnosed with legionnaires disease, before sadly dying on July 17, 2019.

Sarita Sharma, the specialist international serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: "Our clients, including Brian’s loved ones, remain angry and upset at what happened and the circumstances surrounding the events that unfolded. Through our work we sadly see the devastating consequences of legionnaires’ disease, and nothing highlights this more than Brian’s death.

"While nothing can make up for what the families have been through, we’re pleased to have at least secured these settlements which provides them with some closure. Large buildings with more complex water systems – such as hotels, hospitals or spas – are at a greater risk of legionella contamination, the bacteria which causes the infection.

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"Following an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease it’s vital that the source is identified as soon as possible. If any members of the public start experiencing any of the symptoms it’s crucial that they seek immediate medical advice."

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