Belfast Telegraph

‘Graceful and elegant’ Edna Gillen a fantastic mum, mourners told

By Allan Preston

More than 500 mourners at the funeral of a former top model from Northern Ireland were told she would be remembered for her "beauty, elegance and smile".

Edna Gillen from Bangor passed away at the age of 53 last Thursday after living with breast cancer for two years. Married to hairdresser and salon owner Gary (64) for 25 years, Mrs Gillen was also known as a loving mother to Nick (27), Faith (22) and Nina (18).

Rev Peter Lyle led a packed service yesterday at Bangor's Ballyholme Presbyterian Church.

"She was a beautiful girl, very elegant and graceful in the way she did things," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "She will be greatly missed, not only by the church but also by the local community."

He opened his eulogy with a memory of a fashion show for the church.

"The collection of models at the time, volunteers from the church, were a bit shy," he said.

"Edna just said, 'Let me show you how you do it', and she just glided down like she was floating.

"She had a straight face the whole time, but when she finished she just broke into a lovely smile and said, 'So, just do it like that'."

He continued: "There was that sense of great sadness in the church and yet everybody was very keen that her life would be celebrated.

"Particularly those who knew her in her other walks of life in her artistic interests, her work in the library.

"Everyone wanted to celebrate her life and everyone felt really blessed to have known her."

Having started modelling aged 16, Mrs Gillen later co-founded Models-eg, the first Northern Ireland agency to specialise in older models.

As a manager of Bangor Library, she was also known for her great passion for books and had dreams of publishing a novel.

This week her daughter Faith described her mum as "very elegant and stylish with an infectious personality".

Mr Gillen (64) described his late wife as "the love of his life", praising her great bravery in her struggle with cancer.

"It all happened so quickly but she was very strong to the end," he said.

"It is very difficult to deal with. She was a fantastic mother and wife."

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