Belfast Telegraph

Friday 9 October 2015

Tragic couple’s brains donated for research

Published 01/12/2009

Bill Barbour with his wife Ann
Bill Barbour with his wife Ann
Bill Barbour with his wife Ann

The grieving family of Bill and Anne Barbour have said a final, moving farewell to the tragic couple at a private funeral service.

Some 28 family members attended the service to remember the husband and wife found dead in Co Fermanagh last week.

After the emotional 45-minute service their bodies were cremated at Roselawn in Belfast. A more public celebration of their lives is to be held in Enniskillen in January, and will be open to all who knew them.

Anne (83), who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, was found at her home last Tuesday. A post-mortem found that she had been suffocated.

The body of her 88-year-old husband Bill was recovered from a lough near their home in Enniskillen the following day.

In a statement released by the couple’s son, Dr James Barbour, he revealed their brains were retained as donations to the Alzheimer’s Disease Society’s research programme in the hope of finding a cure.

“The bodies had been willed some years ago to the Anatomy Department of the Queen’s University of Belfast, but the post-mortem examinations necessitated by the manner of their deaths made them unsuitable for medical student training,” Dr Barbour’s statement said. “However, in the spirit of the bequests, the brains were retained as donations to the Alzheimer’s Disease Society’s research programme.”

Speaking last week Dr Barbour, who is one of the couple’s four children, described how his father had left a note on the back door of his house. It said his wife Anne was upstairs and he, Bill, was in Rossole Lough.

Dr Barbour revealed his father had said in the note that dementia was “too degrading an illness to be suffered unnecessarily”.

He believes his mother, who watched her own mother suffer from Alzheimer's, may have asked his father to help her end her life when the illness became too much to bear.

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