Baroness (Eileen) Paisley of St George's was a member of the House of Lords from 2006 to 2017 and is the widow of the late Rev Ian Paisley. She is the mother of five children and has 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Q. Can you tell us something of your background?
A. If God spares me, I will celebrate my 89th birthday in November. I had an older brother, William, who passed away 14 years ago, and I have a brother, Jim, and sister, Mollie, who are twins. My parents, Thomas and Emily Cassells, were an ideal couple, who set us a wonderful example of how to live. My father was a grocer and later, with my brother, he opened his own business.
Q. How did you meet your husband Ian?
A. In the summer of 1950, we went on holiday and on the Sunday, William said he was thinking of going to Ian Paisley's church that evening and asked if I would like to accompany him. I agreed to go and three days later, I had a phone call from Ian, asking if I'd accompany him to a service and take his message in shorthand for a new magazine he was publishing. Afterwards, he invited me to have a meal with him and we enjoyed a lively conversation. He took me by surprise when he told me that he had fallen in love with me the first evening he saw me and that love we enjoyed for the rest of our lives. I was 18 and he was 24 when we met, but the church then had no manse and Ian's salary was a pittance, so we couldn't get married until 1956.
Q. You had a long marriage until your husband died in 2014.
A. Ian's last words on Earth were to me: "I love you, darling." After which, he closed his eyes for the last time. Next morning, when our daughter Cherith and I were sitting on either side of his bed, our daughter Rhonda and our son Kyle joined us. Ian suddenly raised his head, gave a little gasp and was gone. Sharon and Ian jnr were both delayed by fog and arrived a little later. That was six years ago, but he still lives on in my heart amid a mountain of memories. I think of him every day.
Q. What about your early education?
A. I attended Strandtown PES from 1937 to 1941 and after Hitler's first bombing, we were evacuated to the country until a few months before the war ended. I returned to school and later studied at Miss Elliott's renowned business college, where I received RSA certificates in Pitman's shorthand and touch-typing and business methods.
.Q How and when did you come to faith?
A. When I was 13, my older brother invited me to go to a Gospel mission in Orangefield Baptist Church and it was there, after speaking to the evangelist, that I committed my life to Christ. I learned from experience that it wasn't my hold on Christ, but His hold on me that keeps me from falling. He gives "exceeding great and precious promises" to everyone who puts their trust in Him.
Q. Have you ever been angry with God?
A. Truthfully, I have never been angry with God. I wouldn't dare to insult the Saviour who gave the last drop of His precious blood to redeem me.
Q. Do you ever get criticised for your faith?
A. Yes. I have been mocked and criticised many times, but so was my sinless Saviour. He didn't deserve it, but I certainly did.
Q. Are you ever ashamed of your own church, or denomination?
A. Yes. No Church is perfect and neither are its ministers, nor members.
Q. Are you afraid to die? Or can you look beyond death?
A. I love and enjoy life and all the countless blessings which the Lord gives me day by day. God's Word tells me to cast all my care on Him and that His Grace is sufficient for me. I'm very aware of that. I don't need to be afraid of death, not because there is anything good in me, but because God's Word says Christ, through death, has destroyed the devil who had the power of death.
Q. Do you believe in the Resurrection?
A. Yes. And the Bible gives a great description of that great day. It will be thrilling to see our loved ones rising through the bounds of their graves and ascend above the world to meet the Lord in the air. The great thing is that those who have put their trust in Christ and are still alive when that great day dawns will also rise and join them. Then we will all be taken right into Heaven to be with Christ forever.
Q. What do you think about people from other denominations and other faiths?
A. Denominational labels don't count for very much. It is our personal relationship with Christ that is the deciding factor. I am not equipped to judge others, as I have enough to do to keep my own heart in tune.
Q. Are the Churches here fulfilling their mission? And has religion helped, or hindered?
A. People are neglecting their place of worship, because they have been spiritually starved and because there are so many blind leaders of the blind. As the Bible says, they both fall into the ditch. Religion isn't what is needed. It is Christ and His Gospel that is needed.
Q. What is your favourite film, book and music, and why?
A. Ian and I used to watch the old Western films that did not resort to blasphemous language and the same with books. We loved the books of CS Lewis and Joseph Hocking. I also love the Authorised Version of the Bible and it never fails to brighten my days and nights. My favourite music is Handel's Messiah.
Q. Where do you feel closest to God?
A. When I read His Word, where He is speaking to me personally, in encouragement and instruction and, most of all, in love.
Q. What epitaph would you like on your gravestone, if any?
A. That's for my family to decide.
Q. Have you any regrets?
A. My main regret is that I wasn't as active for God as I should have been.