A MAN from Evesham whose grandad died after contracting Covid-19 has started an organisation to campaign for the “lives lost due to government negligence and lack of action” during the pandemic.

Ellis Tustin, who is from Evesham and now lives in London, is the founder of Names Not Numbers, a Covid-19 victims memory and ‘accountability’ group which he says now represents almost 600 families.

Ellis started the organisation after he lost his grandfather Berrice Moore who contracted the virus while in a care home and died during Easter last year.

Berrice had lived in Evesham his whole life.

Ellis said: “After my grandfather died, I took his name on a placard down to parliament and stood there on my own and it’s developed from there.

“On Monday I sent off to the printers for another 600 names.

“So we’ve gone from a one-man protest to having more than 3,000 members, and it’s not just London-based; from Evesham there are two names, and more from Worcester, Birmingham, Scotland and all over.”

Ellis said one of the aims of the group is to ‘hold the government to account’.

He said: “They knew the virus was in Italy and coming, but they decided not to advise care homes and not to introduce face masks, so care homes around the country had to jump the gun and create their own lockdown before lockdown even came in.

“They didn’t close the borders in time, they didn’t check people coming in for over a year, they failed to introduce masks for 54 days after SAGE suggested it, they ignored the idea of lockdown for a week, and Boris Johnson missed five coronavirus Cobra meetings in January.

“If you look at a country like Japan which is also an island with double our population; they have a much lower death rate, and most of them have been inside Tokyo – the reason the virus has managed to get into Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and smaller places is because it hasn’t been managed in the cities and you can’t manage the cities if you don’t shut them down.

“On the day of my grandad’s funeral I saw planes coming in from abroad and I thought ‘is that a government that attempted not to let him die?’”

Ellis is walking from Fulham in West London to Brighton next Thursday in memory of those who have lost their lives due to Covid-19.

He said: “This is a walk to ask people to remember the names and not the numbers.”

Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston said: “I cannot comment on individual casework, however there is no doubt there are lessons to be learnt from this pandemic.

“The Prime Minister has announced that there will be a full review into the decisions made, but I also think it’s important to appreciate that decisions were made based on the information available at the time, rather than with the benefit of hindsight.

“A year ago we did not have as much appreciation for how the disease spread, or that people could be asymptomatic, for example.

“We should also remember that when we went into lockdown hundreds of thousands of British citizens were living, working or on holiday overseas and needed to be repatriated so most of the flights were full of Brits returning to their homes.

“To shut borders would have resulted in friends and families being left stranded overseas. But I am confident that all aspects of the government’s approach will come under close scrutiny in the upcoming review which will give us the opportunity to learn important lessons for the future.”