Belfast Telegraph

Jean Faulkner who fronted campaign to save Northern Ireland care home dies at 98

By Cate McCurry

An elderly woman who became the public face of a campaign to keep open a Co Tyrone nursing home has died.

Jean Faulkner passed away at the weekend aged 98.

She fronted the 2014 battle to overturn plans to close Westlands Care Home in Cookstown.

Her emotional plea to former Health Minister Edwin Poots ensured the facility remained open.

It was one of many nursing homes that were threatened with closure. However, Ms Faulkner, who had lived in Westlands for four years, appealed for the plans to be scrapped.

The former DUP minister faced mounting pressure and eventually stepped in and reversed the decision.

Ms Faulkner also appeared on Nolan Live to speak out at the proposed closures.

The Cookstown woman passed away peacefully at the residential home on Sunday. Her cause of death is unknown.

BBC broadcaster Stephen Nolan paid tribute to the campaigner.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "Jean Faulkner sent a message to us all that despite her frailty, she would fight for her rights.

"If ever any citizen wonders if they can really make government sit up and listen, they should watch the footage of Jean on Nolan Live.

"I will never forget looking into her eyes and asking her if she had been consulted about her being moved out of her home.

"Her response sent shockwaves throughout the country.

"She took powerful people on, demanded respect and got it. It was an honour to have met her and she reminds me what I am in broadcasting to do.

"My condolences to her family at this sad time."

Mr Poots described her as a "remarkable lady".

"She was very bright and articulate," he said.

"She made the case extremely powerfully that the home should be kept open and I was delighted to be able to give her the news face-to-face which was received very genuinely.

"It annoyed me as an individual all the stress that was caused to elderly people at that time."

The pair were pictured together at the nursing home on the day he told Ms Faulkner it would remain open.

Her funeral will take place in the First Presbyterian Church in Cookstown tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph

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