As the first Briton known to have caught coronavirus, Connor Reed did much to enlighten us about the then mysterious disease.
He provided our first insight into its worst symptoms by way of an evocative diary published in the Mail. And he relived the ‘Hallelujah’ moment when, after 24 hellish days during which he had felt close to death, he began to recover.
Forcibly locked down in his Wuhan flat for 16 weeks afterwards, the young English teacher became a familiar face on television, sending video reports from the epicentre of the nascent pandemic.
Among the millions who listened to his haunting dispatches — with a mixture of pride and concern — were his Welsh parents, Rod and Hayley Reed, who now live in Australia.
On Thursday, huddled together with younger sons Morgan, 17, and Oliver, eight, Mr and Mrs Reed once again gathered around a screen, 10,000 miles away in Brisbane. This time to watch Connor’s funeral.
For a fortnight ago, having apparently made a full recovery from the virus, this 26-year-old was mysteriously found dead in his dorm at Bangor University, where he had recently begun a degree course in Chinese and linguistics.
Prevented by the travel embargo from making the 24-hour journey to Wales, his parents and siblings could only watch the moving service via a live feed from Colwyn Bay Crematorium.
‘You’d think we would have felt disconnected from Connor because we were so far away, but I didn’t feel that way at all,’ his father told me in an exclusive interview after the 30-minute service.
‘It was just nice that we were at least able to see him. Afterwards, we had a glass of wine and talked about all the incredible things he did in his life.’
Now, the family’s most pressing imperative is to discover how Connor met his death.
Shortly after 10pm on Sunday, October 25, Connor’s housemates found him collapsed on his bedroom floor. The reason for his premature death so far remains unknown.