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Cathy McCrea's family hosts charity gig in tribute to music fan mum they lost to cancer

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The family more recently

The family more recently

Cathy and husband Ross with children Megan and Connor

Cathy and husband Ross with children Megan and Connor

Cathy McCrea (right) with friends

Cathy McCrea (right) with friends

The family more recently

A Belfast man who lost his music loving wife to lung cancer is to honour her memory with a special event to raise vital funds for charity.

Cathy McCrea, who was the mother of Megan (28), Connor (25) and 22-year-old twins Michael and Shea, passed away in October at the age of 54.

Now on what would have been her 55th birthday, the family are bringing together some of Belfast's best musical talent at the Empire Music Hall next Monday (March 9).

For husband Ross (60), the diagnosis and sudden nature of Cathy's deterioration last summer came as a shock.

"She had been feeling a bit breathless and had been to her GP about it, but nothing ever came of it," said Ross.

"Looking back now, she was also losing weight, but we didn't put it down to anything serious. Things took a turn for the worse when we were in London to see Bob Dylan last July.

"We are both big music fans and our daughter had bought us concert tickets so we didn't want to miss it, but we ended up cutting the trip short as we knew Cath needed to get home.

"We went straight to the hospital and she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and within a short period of time we knew it was terminal.

"It happened so quickly and took us all by surprise how serious her illness became so suddenly.

"All of her friends found her very inspiring, so it hit us all very hard when she was diagnosed."

Ross first set eyes on Cathy when the pair met at the College of Business Studies in Belfast.

An encounter a few years later led to an almost three decade-long life together.

"I'm so grateful for the life we had.

"Cath and I met when we were much younger, she was in her early 20s and I was in my mid-20s," he added.

"We married on November 18, 1991 and had almost 28 wonderful years of journeying through life together and have four wonderful children.

"Cath was a very positive person and so caring, giving quality time to everyone around her.

"Time is precious and you won't get it back - have fun and make the most of it. Cath kept her sense of humour throughout; a terminal illness doesn't change people's personality."

As a result of the "fantastic" care Cath received at the Marie Curie Hospice, the family decided to hold their musical fundraiser during the charity's Great Daffodil Appeal.

"Cath spent her last three weeks at the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast and all the staff were fantastic," Ross explained.

"Our preferences were always considered, and they were good at having conversations about end of life.

"Cath was trying to get everything in order herself and the hospice supported us through all that.

"She was so brave and she didn't deny her situation, which also helped the whole family.

"She didn't want to prolong things and limit her quality of life, she wanted to make the most of the time she had left.

"As a family we decided we wanted to do something for Marie Curie to give back for the care that Cath had received, so that's why we're supporting the Great Daffodil Appeal."

Tickets for Monday's special fundraising gig will be available on the door from 7pm and will be priced at £10, with money raised going to Marie Curie.

Acts taking part include rock band Sit Tight, Marty Lundy & Katmandu and Willie Byrne.

"The bands playing are all very familiar on the music scene around Belfast and they all came on board very quickly because they all knew Cath," added Ross.

"She loved music and dance and always brought the fun -that's how we want her to be remembered."

For more information visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil

Belfast Telegraph