Tributes have been paid to an “exceptional” Sunderland photographer who has died after testing positive for Covid-19 last month.
The dad confirmed on October 19 that he had tested positive for Covid-19, posting on his photography Facebook page that he would be self-isolating.
His wife Karen has now shared the tragic news on social media, saying, “Today I lost not only my husband but best friend, my soul mate and my absolute everything
“I simply don’t know how I’m gonna live the rest of my life without you Dean Matthews it just don’t feel real.
“One thing I do know is that you were one of the best men in the whole world.
“You lived your life for me and the kids and we are gonna continue to make you the proud Dad and husband you always have been.
“We will love you forever and always.”
Among the stunned tributes flooding in was one from Sunderland AFC, who tweeted: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Dean Matthews. A regular @StadiumOfLight and an exceptional photographer, Dean always captured our club and our city at its very best.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time. Rest in peace, Dean.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott tweeted: “Such sad news my thoughts are with @Dean_Matthews_ family and friends.”
Fan page Sunderland AFC News and Banter said: “A real talent that captured some amazing pictures of Sunderland and the region.”
Scores of messages have been left to “a true Sunderland legend” on Dean’s own social media, with one family member describing him as “an absolute gentleman with a heart of gold”.
One person said: “A wonderful, talented, funny man who made both Alice and I feel so at ease and comfortable on her very first photo shoot.”
Another posted: “Devastated to hear the sad news of the passing of probably one of the best northeast photographers today. You have always been a massive inspiration to me over the years and will be greatly missed.”
Another person wrote: “Seems half of Sunderland are in shock right now, such an amazing photographer and lovely man.
“Thinking of all his family at this devastating time.”
In the weeks before his death, Dean posted to thank his friends and well wishers for their support as he said he had been admitted to hospital.
He told followers: “My oxygen levels dropped making it hard for me to catch my breath and also being treated for a lung infection.”