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Rory Kinnear pays tribute to sister who died from coronavirus in May

Rory Kinnear has spoken movingly about his late sister Karina, who died from coronavirus in May.

The actor paid tribute to his older sister in a BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, calling her ‘an anchor of kindness’.

Karina, 48, had been left severely disabled after suffering a lack of oxygen at birth that caused severe brain damaged, and Rory explained in his tribute that her inspiring approach to life is something he has held onto through his grief.   

Moving:  Rory Kinnear has spoken movingly about his late sister Karina, who died from coronavirus in May, paying tribute on BBC Radio 4 and calling her ‘an anchor of kindness’

‘Even the things I never thought I’d miss have become enveloped in a fondness,’ he said. ‘The smell of a hospital, the puffy hum of a nebuliser, the soft mechanical burr of a hoist.’

‘And I have realised the privilege of growing up with these things as a norm, as an anchor. Because Karina required kindness to live and such was her spirit, her sense of humour, gentle strength, her vibrant passion to live.’

‘What she was given, she returned with interest. A transaction of effort and reward. I was fortunate to witness so often. That anchor of kindness has been what many of us have held onto in this year of loss, restriction and renewal. Even more so when we have felt its absence.’

Rory went on to say that he’s seen that anchor of kindness in so many places in 2020, explaining: ‘We’ve seen it in the courage of our country’s medical and care staff, in the movements towards greater racial equality, in the campaigns to feed children in poverty.’

Karina, 48, had been left severely disabled after suffering a lack of oxygen at birth that caused severe brain damaged, and Rory explained in his tribute that her inspiring approach to life is something he has held onto (pictured in 2012's Skyfall)

Karina, 48, had been left severely disabled after suffering a lack of oxygen at birth that caused severe brain damaged, and Rory explained in his tribute that her inspiring approach to life is something he has held onto (pictured in 2012’s Skyfall)

‘Acts of kindness and courage from people who understand that those who need help are not obstacles or drains on our pity or resources. They are repositories of as much knowledge and light as anyone else.’

Rory ended his emotional tribute with the words: ‘Karina was sunshine. She just required you to engage, to pull back the curtains to see it. An act that rewarded far more than it asked. For her, for all she taught me and revealed, it’s the anchor of kindness I hope to hold onto tightest for the rest of my life.’

Rory spoke about Karina’s death in an interview with The Guardian in May, explaining how she had tested positive for coronavirus just over a week before her death, with the virus ‘attacking’ her stomach, lungs and kidneys.

Karina died with her family saying goodbye over FaceTime and the telephone.

The theatre star, 42, said he had ‘played Karina one of her favourite songs and told her how proud I was to have been her brother and what gratitude I felt for what she had taught me about life’.

A nurse also held up Karina’s iPad so her mother could narrate her favourite story to her via FaceTime on her mobile. 

Karina had been left severely disabled after suffering a lack of oxygen at birth that caused severe brain damage.

She became paralysed from the waist down aged 19 following a lifesaving operation on her spine. She also suffered kidney damage after a battle with sepsis in 2014.

Karina, who needed lifelong care, had not been admitted to hospital for 18 months prior to her death, with Rory saying she had ‘defied the odds’ her entire life.

The Bill Tanner star added that ‘no-one could describe Karina as weak’ or ‘more disposable as anyone else, saying: ‘So it was coronavirus that killed her. It wasn’t her ‘underlying conditions’.’

Rory said: ‘Karina’s death is what we have feared ever since the disease took hold so rapaciously in Italy in February. Her lung capacity was so diminished that we knew, given the reports of its effects, that it was likely to prove incredibly dangerous for her.’

The Kinnear family was hit by tragedy in 1988 when Rory’s father, character actor Roy Kinnear died from a heart attack after falling off a horse during the making of The Return of the Musketeers in Toledo, Spain. 

In honour of Karina, Roy’s widow Carmel Cryan established The Roy Kinnear Trust in 1994, which was designed to improve the lives of physically and mentally disabled young people.

A specialist home named Roy Kinnear House – built for six young adults with severe disabilities – was opened in 2000. Karina lived there with others in a home 10 minutes drive from her mother’s house. 

Family tragedy: The Kinnear family was hit by tragedy in 1988 when Rory's father, character actor Roy Kinnear died from a heart attack after falling off a horse (pictured 1988)

Family tragedy: The Kinnear family was hit by tragedy in 1988 when Rory’s father, character actor Roy Kinnear died from a heart attack after falling off a horse (pictured 1988)


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