Belfast Telegraph

Moneymore man George is oldest person with Down's at 75

Moneymore man George celebrates 75th birthday

George with a family friend and her dog Remi on his 75th birthday
George with a family friend and her dog Remi on his 75th birthday
George and his sister Eileen Miller
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A Co Londonderry man believed to be the oldest living person in the UK and Ireland with Down's syndrome has celebrated his 75th birthday.

George McCullagh, who is originally from Moneymore, reached the milestone on June 1 and marked the occasion with a birthday party at Marina Care Home in Ballyronan, where he resides.

His sister Eileen Miller, from Randalstown, said she was very surprised when Down's Syndrome UK informed the family that Mr McCullagh was reckoned to be the oldest person in the British Isles living with the condition.

Their mother Mary Elizabeth - known as Lily - was told by doctors that her son would not reach his teenage years before saying he wouldn't live to 20 years of age, Mrs Miller told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When he saw 20 they kept quiet after that!" she added.

Mr McCullagh was the only son of Mary Elizabeth and William George. He, along with his three sisters Elizabeth, Dorothy and Eileen, looked after the family farm, which was situated between Moneymore and Coagh.

"George is the second oldest and no doubt it was a disappointment that he had Down's syndrome because dad would have had great hope that he would have carried on the farming, but that wasn't to be," explained Mrs Miller.

"George mucked in where he could with the animals and that - he had a very happy childhood."

Mr McCullagh, who had family members and close friends at his birthday party, loves animals, colouring in, watching Westerns, listening to all types of music and having people around him.

His sister added that he adored attending church, but unfortunately his health has prevented him from doing that in recent years.

George is also a huge fan of comic annual classics the Dandy and the Beano.

"A friend of ours gets him the Dandy and the Beano every year, he just loves looking through those," said Mrs Miller.

"He has a lot of cuddly toys as well.

"He has a wee cuddly dog that he takes with him everywhere."

Looking back at Mr McCullagh's birthday party, his sister said her sibling loved being the centre of attention and the day was topped off by a visit from his friend's dog Remi.

"It was just a wee quiet affair that we had with our family and very close friends," she added.

"You could see the smile on his face when he was with the dog."

Praising the fantastic work by the staff at Marina Care Home, Mrs Miller said the family are "delighted" at how things have worked out for her brother.

"The staff have him spoilt rotten," she said.

"It has made a big difference for us because he's so well looked after."

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