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Songs just don't come any more personal than Tyrone troubadour's tribute to the 'Everyday Heroes' of NHS

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Justin McGurk with dad Michael

Justin McGurk with dad Michael

Justin McGurk with dad Michael

A Co Tyrone singer-songwriter has paid tribute to the health workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic in the best way he knows how - by penning a new tune.

And in writing the track - Everyday Heroes - Justin McGurk from Cookstown has used his first-hand experience of the pressures health service staff are under.

"My sister Michelle McDonald is a nurse and has been telling us for the past few weeks what the health service has been coping with," said Justin.

"My wife Roisin went through treatment for breast cancer and my father Michael had been going through chemotherapy until it was stopped a couple of weeks ago, so my family owe so much to the care he had been receiving."

Last year Justin (46) spoke about having to wait eight hours with his dad due to a shortage of beds in the cancer unit at the City Hospital in Belfast, now home to Northern Ireland's Nightingale Hospital for Covid-19 patients.

"In June last year when I was taking my father for treatment I saw just how much pressure the system was under, yet the nurses were wonderful in what they were trying to do for us as a family. Now I have a bit more time on my hands than usual, I felt the best way I could say thanks and show my family's support was to write a song. It's only a little thing, but something I felt I wanted to do.

"My experience with the health service has given me so much empathy for the work our health care system is doing.

"Given my father's situation, we've taken the consultant's advice to end the current chemotherapy. My dad's doing fine for now, his tumour is not advancing and we're thankful for that.

"It's harrowing to watch what has been going on. It's ironic that our health workers had to fight and go on strike to get what they deserved and now we need them more than ever. But if this song brings a smile to a few faces then I'd be delighted."

The tune, the first Justin has recorded remotely from his own garage, with help from Paul McNeilly at Pinegrove Studios in Ballymena, was only completed two days ago and for now can be heard on Justin's Facebook page, where he has also been putting out live performances.

Belfast Telegraph