Viola Cuthbertson insists she isn’t strong, despite what her friends and neighbours tell her.

Propped up on her bed is a white teddy bear properly attired in his mini kilt of rich blue Pride of Scotland tartan. She instinctively gives it a cuddle when she starts talking about her son.

David Seaford Cuthbertson was one of the thousands of Scots to lose their life to Covid-19. But he was also Viola’s only child.

Sitting in her living room of her Radnor Park flat overlooking the Kilpatrick Hills, the loss still isn’t real to the 86-year-old, even after so many months to process it.

David was one of the early fatalities of the pandemic, going into hospital just after the national lockdown and spending 12 days heavily sedated on a ventilator in ICU before he passed away on April 7.

The 58-year-old always went to visit his mum on Wednesdays until the end of March when he phoned her to say he felt ill.

“He said he had never felt anything like this before in his life,” Viola told the Post. They said they loved each other, their last words. He went into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital the next day.

“You should tell them,” she added. “You should always tell people.”

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David was born on May 6, 1961 carrying as his middle name Seaford, the first name of his grandfather, originally from Barbados and one of Clydebank’s first Black residents.

The family –Viola, husband David and their son – moved to the Radnor Park high flats when David was two.

When he was seven and a pupil at Kilbowie Primary, he began a life-long passion for cars and driving. He would sit in the passenger seat of the family’s VW Beetle - painted blue by dad thanks to a trip to Woolworths - and change gears for his father David Snr.

After leaving Clydebank High, young David took a job as a cellar boy at The Goldenhill bar at the top of Kilbowie Road.

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He later worked for seven years on oil rigs. He had left the Piper Alpha just two weeks before 167 people – many of them friends – were killed in July 1988.

David spent five or six years driving buses, but his mum recalled he was “too nice and polite to work for the buses”.

His love of driving made him a perfect fit as a roads worker for 18 years at East Renfrewshire Council.

Its leader, Councillor Tony Buchanan, said David was a popular member of staff whom colleagues remembered fondly.

He said: “Those who worked with David said he was a lovely man, always smiling and dependable and always ready to volunteer to help out.

“He will be greatly missed by his colleagues in the roads team and by those in the roads contracting unit in particular.

“Our sympathies go to his loved ones at this difficult time.”

David’s funeral on April 23 faced restrictions limiting attendances to fewer than 10. But the procession went past David’s depot in Thornliebank where 250 colleagues and friends – and a piper – gave a guard of honour.

Viola, who had been shielding through the lockdown, was able to attend the funeral and then returned to find neighbours set up a small reception in the landing outside her flat to show their support.

Then, as they had throughout David’s 12 days in hospital, her neighbours and niece Linda wanted to offer comfort – but they couldn’t go near her.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that have the neighbours I’ve got,” said Viola, who has had days when she has struggled to get out of bed, crippled by the loss. “I don’t know what I’d have done without them. I’d have died without them.

“I have had so much comfort from them. Nothing was a bother if I cried and cried.

“People don’t realise your neighbours can pull you through.”

Viola’s husband died seven years ago - the anniversary of which was just a month after David died.

“People say ‘you’re strong - you’ll survive’ - they always say that to me. I’m not strong now,” she protested. But she was the daughter of someone who faced prejudice, but kept going. And her dad taught her the same.

She pushed herself to talk to the Post about David, not only to celebrate how much he meant to her, but to help others - she wants his death “to matter”.

“I picture him with that big smile coming through that door,” she said. “To think I’ll never see him again ... it’s not real.

“I just hope it helps people. You just have to go on, but it’s not easy. I keep busy. If I sit down and think too long, I’m away.

“He would not like me to be sitting crying all the time.”

Viola said she fears the virus will still return across Scotland.

“I wish I could get across to people how dangerous this thing is,” she said, “and some of them are taking it lightly.

“David was only 58 so I just don’t don’t think it was fair that he was taken away.”

Apologetically she added: “I said I wasn’t going to cry.”

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David lived with his partner Dianne McGovern in Giffnock for many years.

“David and I were soulmates who spent 17 very happy years together,” she said.

“David was a big gentle kind-hearted man who would help anyone out. He always smiled all the time and is extremely sadly missed by myself and David’s mum and many friends and family.”

“It’s not a life if you don’t have your son,” said Viola. “He is part of you and part of your man.

“I just want people to know how I feel about my son. I loved the ground he walked on - him and his daddy.

“You think you’re going to go before your son.

“I keep thinking life is too precious, otherwise I think I would have given up long ago. You just have to hold on.”

David had two kilts, insisting on having one on his cruises to show off his national pride.

Recently, Viola was given the white bear she now keeps on her bed. The card, complete with a picture of the bear, read: “I hope in some way that this little bear, whom I kitted out with parts of David’s kilt wear, will give you comfort and cherished memories of your beautiful, handsome son David, whom I was honoured to have as my partner for 17 years.”

Dianne has an identical bear, as well as a memorial bench for her home made by family.

“I give him a wee cuddle every night,” said Viola. “I know it’s only a bear but I feel close to my son.

“Wee Seaford.”

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