More than 100 Metropolitan Police officers lined the streets to pay tribute to a “hero” colleague who died with Covid-19.
Ramesh Gunamal, 70, had been working on the front desk at Forest Gate police station in Newham for 12 years before he fell ill in March.
The father-of-two died in Newham University Hospital on May 9 after battling symptoms for 42 days, spending two weeks on an oxygen mask a further four on a ventilator.
Mr Gunamal is one of two Met staff known to have died with the virus . Fellow officers saluted as his funeral cortege was driven past the station, as the flag was flown at half mast in his honour.
His son Tarun said: “My dad was my hero. A real inspiration to everyone he met. He showed us that anything is possible when you put your heart and soul into it. He was dedicated to his job.
“The Met have been very supportive to the family since my father’s passing and it was overwhelming seeing all the officers at his funeral paying tribute to him.”
Mr Gunamal was born in Tanzania and came to the UK in 1975. He spent his career working in sales before deciding to join the Met aged 58.
To pass the 12-week course and fitness test he transformed his diet, while his son helped him with endurance training.
Tarun said: “He was determined to work with the police and help the community. He had to train really hard to pass the fitness test. It was something that he was absolutely determined to do.
“He completely turned his life around and pushed himself out of his comfort zone. He was fit and healthy with no plans to retire. He loved his job serving the community and making difference to the lives of others. He will be missed very much. He will always be remembered by his family, police family and friends."
Mr Gunamal served on the station’s front desk, working with victims of crime.
His family said: “What kept him going was the reason he was doing it – to serve and make a difference to the lives of others. This empowered, motivated and inspired him to keep going.
“Being with the Met was an honour. There was nothing he liked better than to serve the community with a smile.”
Mr Gunamal was admitted to hospital on March 29 after he began struggling to breathe and tested positive for coronavirus.
His family added: "We wish to express our thanks to all the staff in the intensive care unit at the Newham University Hospital for everything they did."
North East Borough Command Unit Commander Richard Tucker said: “The north east borough command unit policing family expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences for the tragic passing of Ramesh.
“He was a valued member of our team, who will be remembered for his kindness and commitment to public service. Ramesh will be sorely missed by us all.”