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Strabane unites for church bells tribute to hero nurse Pat McManus

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Front line worker: Pat McManus

Front line worker: Pat McManus

Front line worker: Pat McManus

The sound of church bells rang out across Strabane yesterday in memory of a nurse from the town who died after contracting Covid-19.

Pat McManus lived in England and worked at a hospital in Staffordshire.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception, where 60-year-old Mr McManus used to be a parishioner, rang its bells at 3pm, with other churches across the town joining in as a way to honour not only the nurse, but all front line workers.

"He had been a nurse in Staffordshire for 40 years, but Strabane was his home and he would come back every year to reconnect with all the folk here," said parish priest Fr Declan Boland.

"When the news came through about what had happened, at first it was hard to twig exactly what had happened, but when I realised, it was all so sad."

Councillor Raymond Barr, who was a contemporary of grandfather-of-five Mr McManus, helped organise the tribute and reached out to local churches.

"The initiative came from a local councillor who wanted to honour the wonderful work Pat did," said Fr Boland.

"And it was a fitting way to honour him. Pat was the focus for a way to express our appreciation of the amazing work people are doing on the front line, and it was a cross-community initiative all over the Strabane area."

Church of Ireland rector at Christ Church Rev John White said the fact all denominations had taken part was important.

"As it has often been said, this disease makes no distinction," said Rev White.

"This is a way we can identify with those in the front line, with those in the NHS, all the staff in hospitals and those in nursing homes. It isn't much, but it is one way we can show that we are with them."

Mr McManus's niece Aileen Mullen told the BBC the gesture "was a beautiful thing to do to remember Pat".

Mr McManus leaves behind his partner Lena, three sons and grandchildren.

Belfast Telegraph