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Relatively Speaking: Brother and sister, Maurice and Julie

Karen Ireland

As head of programming at Belfast radio station U105, Maurice Jay (47) is heavily involved in preparations for its 10th birthday in November. His sister, Julie (58), who suffers from chronic asthma, recently had to give up her career in a call centre due to ill-health.

Name: Maurice Jay

Age: 47

Occupation: Radio presenter and head of programming at U105

Relationship to Julie: Brother

It is U105's 10th birthday in November and I have been with the station since the beginning.

I love my job. It is amazing to have a bit of craic and banter with people on the air and play some great tunes for a living.

Many people wouldn't see it as a real job at all, but I feel very fortunate to get to do something which I love.

I started my career at Belfast Community Radio in 1992. Before that, I worked in hospital radio and was DJing in bars and clubs.

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but when I went through the application process, my eyesight let me down, so I focused on my other main passion in life, which was music.

I've always loved music. I think I have my sister, Julie, to thank for that. She is 11 years older than me and I started stealing her record collection when I was about four or five.

Julie was into David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix - I used to get my mum's knitting needles from the cupboard and drum along to the music. My two sons, Evan, who is eight, and Riley, who is six, both love music, too.

Julie is my only sibling and, in spite of the age-gap, we are incredibly close. I really admire her, as she is extremely caring.

She has four grown-up children and numerous grandchildren, and she just gives so much of herself to other people. She is a real people person - she is so kind and supportive.

Julie is a chronic asthmatic, but she has worked so hard all her life to rise above this and just get on with things. I really think she is very courageous.

We see each other every few months, but we would speak to each other regularly on the phone and I know she is always there if I need her and vice versa.

We are a very close family and always get together at my dad's house every Christmas morning.

There's a big clan of us. We were all together a couple of weekends ago for the christening of one of Julie's grandchildren. I admire how hard Julie has worked all her life and how determined she is to succeed. She is only 4ft 3ins, but she is a real dynamo. When she was pregnant, we called her a beach ball, as she was as round as she was tall!

Name: Julie Lowry

Age: 58

Occupation: Retired call centre worker

Relationship to Maurice: Sister

I worked for more than 10 years in a call centre, but I had to retire recently due to ill-health. I suffer from chronic asthma and I had to slow down.

However, I have four grown-up sons and nine grandchildren, so I am always kept busy. There is always someone on the phone looking for a babysitter and I am only too happy to help out.

I joke with Maurice that he got the brains and I got the beauty, the charm and the personality!

We have always been very close. Growing up, I would have taken him out for the day to give mum a break.

My now-husband, David, and I would have taken him into Belfast for the day and treated him - he was always a good child.

We don't see each other as often as we would like to, as we are both so busy, but I know Maurice is just at the end of the phone.

I am extremely proud of him and all that he has achieved. I am always telling people about my famous wee brother. He has done so well and accomplished so much.

Maurice has always been a great younger brother. He is a very caring person and a real character.

For as long as I can remember, he has loved music. He always wanted to be a DJ. If he sets his mind to a particular goal, he will achieve it. I admire that about him.

When we lost our mum four years ago, it was very difficult for us all. Maurice took it especially hard and I tried to be the strong one and be there for him.

We all miss her dreadfully, but life has to go on and we just love and support each other as best we can.

The only thing that winds me up about Maurice is that, sometimes, he doesn't listen and you have to tell him things several times. He is also very opinionated, like most men, and thinks he is right all the time.

That said, I am very proud of him. I wouldn't change a thing about him.

A star of radio ... and the stage

  • As a teenager, Maurice Jay hosted school discos and presented his first radio show on Ulster Hospital Radio
  • In the early 1990s, he began working for Belfast Community Radio, moving to Downtown Radio, before joining Belfast CityBeat in 2000
  • In 2005, he joined UTV as head of music for their new radio station, U105, and, in May 2008, he took up the position of programme controller. He also hosts Breakfast at U105
  • Maurice played the lead role of Danny Zuko in a UK touring production of Grease and appeared in West Side Story. He later starred as Riff, the leader of The Jets, in a production of the same musical with Opera Northern Ireland and the Ulster Orchestra

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