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Dad's death was a terrible shock, but baby Eve has lit up our lives, says presenter Kerry McLean

By Una Brankin

BBC Radio presenter Kerry McLean has spoken of her heartache after the death of her father, Shaun, earlier this year.

And in an interview for Northern Woman magazine, she's described her surprise baby Eve, born a year ago, as "a wee gift from God" who has helped the family to cope with their loss.

Former civil servant Shaun Turner died in March, just six days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the same disease that killed Kerry's friend, the singer Bap Kennedy, last month.

Mum-of-three Kerry, who is married to fellow Radio Ulster presenter Ralph McLean, said her father was a relatively fit man before he began losing weight and suffering unexplained stomach pains.

"He had diabetes for no apparent reason and there can be a link between diabetes and cancer," added Kerry, who is a patron of the charity Action Pancreatic Cancer.

"If we'd known that at the time, we would have been more aware. And men are typically 'I'm all right' and don't go to the doctor and then it's too late.

"Dad was like that, but he was feeling quite ropey the morning of Eve's christening.

"We knew it was serious when he was too unwell to get out of his bed to come to the church. Mum forced him out of the door to the doctor and he was sent straight to hospital in Coleraine."

Less than a week later, Shaun Turner passed away with his wife, the teachers' union leader Fern Turner, at his side.

"He was due to meet the consultant on the Monday to see if anything could be done," said Kerry. "He was determined that he wasn't leaving mum, so when he went it was very quick and sudden.

"In a way, I'm pleased it was just him and mum at the end. It's the way he would have wanted it."

Kerry also told how her faith has helped her to cope with the loss of the father she adored.

"I'm quite religious, and Daddy was, too, but quietly," she said. "We wouldn't push it down people's throats or talk about it.

"I've spoken to other families, whose fathers had longer battles. I'm glad Daddy went the way he did. Do I think I'll ever see him again? Gosh, I hope so."

Christmas will be hard for Kerry without her dad, but she is looking forward to spending time with Ralph and her children, Tara (10), eight-year-old Dan, and Eve, whose first birthday is this week.

Eve was born three weeks early after a surprise pregnancy when Kerry was 40. She described the little girl as "a wee gift from God who has brought light into all our lives, especially since Daddy died'.

In the interview, Kerry also talks about her relationship with husband and how the couple cope with their hectic lives in broadcasting.

"I think being away from each other so much keeps it fresh," she said. "My daughter, who's 10 going on 19, says 'it's SO embarrassing - you're always kissing!'

"He's more down-to-earth, I'm more glass half full. I'm one of those incredibly irritating people. I don't do bad moods very often."

Kerry's interview is in the December issue of Northern Woman, on sale now at £2.50.

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