Tributes paid to popular Huntingdon landlord who died from Covid while recovering from gruelling treatment

Paul Harvey was the publican of the Market Inn in Huntingdon. 

Paul Harvey was the publican of the Market Inn in Huntingdon. - Credit: HARVEY FAMILY

A popular former Huntingdon publican has died from Covid in Spain where he had gone to recover from gruelling treatment for lung cancer.

Paul Harvey, 65, and wife Nicola had been at the Market Inn for 10 years before Paul returned to his passion of HGV-1 driving. The couple made the front page of The Hunts Post in 2005 after celebrating their “fairytale” wedding - his fourth and her third - at Huntingdon’s All Saints Church which was packed with family, friends and customers.

The family plan to hold a celebration of Paul’s life after the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
Nicola’s daughter Lucy Draper said Paul had been born in Devon before joining the British Army at the age of 16, serving for five years.

She said his career of long-distance lorry driving made any relationship difficult and he had married and divorced three times between 1976 and 1996 - but his luck was to change when Paul met her mother through a radio programme which led to a whirlwind romance.

Lucy said: “In November 2000, he was matched with my mum, Nicola, on Classic Gold Radio. They met up on the Wednesday and by Saturday, she had moved in with him. They soon became owners of the Market Inn pub in Huntingdon after temporary stints elsewhere as relief managers.

“Nicola and Paul married at All Saints’ Church, Huntingdon on May 7, 2005 and was made a town event attended by several hundred people including a reporter at The Hunts Post. This event proved their popularity and reputation in the community during 2001 to 2011.”

Paul and Nicola on their wedding day in 2005.

Paul and Nicola on their wedding day in 2005. - Credit: HARVEY FAMILY

Lucy said the couple sold their lease of the pub in 2011 and Paul returned to lorry driving. 
She said that in February 2019 the family was given the devastating news that Paul had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

He underwent aggressive daily radiotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, together with chemotherapy, and he also underwent immunotherapy at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Later that year Paul was surprised to find he had been given the all clear.
Lucy said: “Paul had new hope to lead a normal fulfilling life. He and Nicola decided to drive to Spain on December 19, 2020 to spend Christmas and new year with family and friends there, especially as Covid rates in the area were exceptionally low.

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Nicola and Paul were due to return on January 17 but were caught up in the lockdown and Paul developed what they thought was flu. Lucy said Paul’s condition took a turn for the worse and he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. He was optimistic about his recovery but his condition deteriorated over a single day and he died on January 31.

“They were inseparable and were together 24/7,” Lucy said.

Paul’s stepson Thomas, 29, added: “You have every characteristic I could admire from a father - the stiff upper lip to any hardship, the relentless duty to any responsibility and the strength to continue through whatever setback. Without you, I would be nowhere near tough as I am today.

“You recently won against lung cancer as a miracle to everybody’s absolute amazement, and were supposed to receive the Covid vaccine next week.”

Thomas said: “As you were alone in that hospital bed at Spain, where nobody spoke English well, and none of us could visit you, you were strong as your fight with cancer. Dad - you were confident they’d do their best and you would recover.

“Your long fight with cancer, your sudden battle with Covid - everything you did was as the soldier you once were.  You fought with absolute courage at each step and never once showed fear. I’ll take your attitude as a lesson to all of this right now, I’ll be there for my family.”

The couple had seven children between them and had retired to Kimbolton.