Belfast Telegraph

Remembering those we lost in 2014: From Gerry Anderson and Una Crudden to Oscar Knox and Ian Paisley

By Staff Reporter

From Oscar Knox and Ian Paisley to Gerry Anderson and Una Crudden, we remember some of the unforgettably brave and inspirational people that we lost last year.

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson was one of Northern Ireland's best loved radio presenters - whose instantly recognisable voice brought comfort and laughs to people across the country.The veteran BBC presenter passed away on August 21 following a long illness, aged 69.

Tributes flooded in for the broadcaster on the news of his death.

Anderson's wit, musical talent and relaxed on-air style helped him grow a huge following.

An irreverent morning phone-in show won a legion of loyal fans - with his back and forth between co-host Sean Coyle often resulting in fits of laughter. He had been off-air for almost two years due to ongoing poor health.

The former showband guitarist had a 30-year career in broadcasting, including an ill-fated spell on Radio 4.

Aside from several hosting jobs on TV for BBC Northern Ireland, it's his role on Radio Ulster and Radio Foyle for which he will be remembered best.

A native of Derry, Anderson came up with the now well-known alternative name of 'Stroke City', a nod to the endless contention over what his home city should be called.

Almost 10 years ago he was inducted into the UK Radio Hall of Fame.

Tributes poured in from colleagues and politicians following his death.

The wife of the broadcaster said she was "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of love for her husband in the hours after his death.

Oscar Knox

He was one of Northern Ireland’s bravest little fighters.

Oscar Knox, the five-year-old whose battle against neuroblastoma captured the hearts and minds of people across the world, lost his battle with cancer on May 8.

After his initial diagnosis in 2011 his family started a Twitter account to update friends and family on his condition, and  it soon attracted thousands of followers. His family broke the sad news that he had died in a Tweet in which they said: “Our beautiful amazing and much loved son Oscar James Knox gained his angel wings yesterday afternoon. Sleep tight little man Xx.”

The news came weeks after Oscar was moved into the care of the Children’s Hospice following his two-year battle against the disease.

At that time, the five-year-old’s suffering was so great that he told his parents: “I don’t want to be a boy anymore.”

In the latest update to an online diary documenting Oscar’s fight, his mum Leona wrote: “In the past four weeks Oscar has suffered more pain than we could have imagined, and more anguish than any five-year-old should ever know.”

She said that she and her husband Stephen had been “pushed to the limit of what any parent could tolerate in terms of watching their child suffer”.

Oscar’s story inspired people around the world and thousands came to his funeral. Among his biggest supporters was boxer Carl Frampton. When Oscar died, Belfast City Hall was lit up for him and lanterns  lit across the province.

Rev Ian Paisley

Former Northern Ireland First Minister Rev Ian Paisley died on September 12. The former Democratic Unionist Party leader was 88 years old.

Once a firebrand preacher, who led opposition to any accommodation with republicans for decades, Ian Paisley entered into power-sharing government with Sinn Fein.

Even though opposed to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 — which effectively ended the Troubles — Mr Paisley’s party ended up sharing power with his bitter rivals in 2007.

Mr Paisley and Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness were dubbed the ‘Chuckle Brothers’, such was the extent of their successful working relationship as First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Following Mr Paisley’s death, Mr McGuinness paid tribute to his “friend”.

Elected to Westminster in 1970 as a unionist MP for North Antrim, just a year later he founded the DUP, which he led until 2008.

Playing a key role in orchestrating the Ulster Workers’ Strike which brought Northern Ireland to a standstill in 1973, he was opposed to the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement and accused Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of a betrayal of unionists.

After his death tributes flooded in from across the political spectrum around the globe. His funeral was private and later in the year a memorial service was held in the Ulster Hall.

Jack Kyle

Irish rugby great Jack Kyle died peacefully in his sleep at home on November 28 surrounded by his family.

Tributes began pouring in for the 88-year-old Grand Slam-winning Belfast man, who was remembered for his humanitarian exploits off the field as well as his on-field heroics.

Stars past and present, in addition to commentators and analysts, politicians and friends, were among those to honour him.

Broadcaster Tom McGurk recalled his work on the missions.

“He wasn’t only a wonderful rugby player, he was a wonderful person. He spent nearly 40 years working on the missions. He could have stayed behind and earned a tidy sum, as he was an excellent doctor and specialist. He devoted a huge part of his life out in Africa to those who needed him most.”

Kyle was a key member of the Ireland team that claimed the country’s first Five Nations Grand Slam in 1948 and also won six caps for the Lions in a star-studded career. In 2002 he was voted Ireland’s greatest ever player.

Una Crudden

Much-loved cancer campaigner Una Crudden died at the age of 60 on December 4.

Una fought tirelessly to highlight how women can spot the signs of ovarian cancer.

She was named Woman of the Year by the Belfast Telegraph, and while dealing with her own terminal cancer diagnosis, fought valiantly to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer following her own misdiagnosis.

On Twitter her daughter Lisa said: ‘Goodbye to my beautiful mummy unacrudden. Sweet dreams to the bravest person I know xx’.

Hairdressing salons, bingo halls, pharmacies and GP practices across Northern Ireland will now receive thousands of leaflets and posters highlighting the symptoms of the disease that claims more than 100 lives a year in Northern Ireland.

More than 150 women are diagnosed with the condition each year.

And earlier this year, her valiant efforts to raise awareness earned her the Belfast’s Telegraph’s Inspirational Woman of the Year Award

George Savage

Former Ulster Unionist MLA George Savage, died at the age of 72.

The quietly-spoken farmer represented the Upper Bann constituency in the Northern Ireland Assembly until 2011.

He passed away on October 1. Mr Savage was also a long-serving member of Craigavon Borough Council in Co Armagh, serving two terms as mayor. UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said he was “an Ulster Unionist stalwart who loyally and faithfully represented the party in the Upper Bann area for decades”.

“He was a tireless worker for his constituents and held in very high esteem by political friend and foe alike,” he added.

David McClarty

Mr McClarty died in April after being diagnosed with cancer some time ago.

Prior to his illness he had been courted by Alliance, NI21 and his former Ulster Unionist Party, but although he said he supported the general approach of NI21, he had turned down all overtures.

Mr McClarty had been politically active since he was first elected to Coleraine Borough Council in 1989. He served as mayor between 1993 and 1995.

He was elected to the Assembly in 1998 as an Ulster Unionist and was one of the party’s longest serving MLAs before he resigned from it in 2011 following a fractious reselection battle.

The local party machine rejected him in favour of running two new candidates. In the event, Mr McClarty was elected as an independent and both of the UUP candidates were defeated.

He will be remembered as one of the leading moderates in Northern Ireland politics and, as Mr Nesbitt put it, “probably the most popular MLA at Stormont”.

Gerry Conlon

Gerry Conlon, who was wrongly convicted of the 1974 Guildford IRA pub bombing, died aged 60 in June after an illness.

He was one of the Guildford Four who spent 15 years in prison before their convictions were quashed in 1989.

Mr Conlon’s family said his fight for freedom had “forced the world’s closed eyes to be opened to injustice”.

His case was highlighted in the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

High-profile attacks were carried out in Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham in 1974. Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson were jailed for life in 1975 for an attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford, which killed four soldiers and a civilian and injured  scores more.

All those involved vigorously protested their innocence.

The Court of Appeal quashed their sentences in October 1989, amid doubts raised about the police evidence against them.

Sam Foster

DUP minister Arlene Foster led tributes to her uncle, the senior Ulster Unionist Sam Foster, who died at the age of 82.

Mr Foster was  Environment Minister in the first Stormont Executive following the Good Friday Agreement.

The long-serving Fermanagh Assembly Member and councillor had been coping with Parkinson’s disease for several years and, while retired from front line politics for more than a decade, remained active within the UUP.

The party’s leader Mike Nesbitt said: “It is a mark of Sam that he was able to gain the respect of political friend and foe alike.”

He was a former chairman of Fermanagh District Council and served as a major in the Ulster Defence Regiment. In 2002 Mr Foster received a CBE for political and public service.

Though Ms Foster and her uncle had a public falling-out when she left the UUP for the DUP, she spoke highly of him. She said: “It is well-known that Sammy and I didn’t always agree on the direction of unionism post the Belfast Agreement, but we did, especially in later years, realise the importance of family.”

Sir David Mitchell

Conservative minister Sir David Mitchell died aged 86 following a long illness in August.

Sir David was an MP for more than 30 years and served under Margaret Thatcher in departments including Industry, Transport and Northern Ireland. In January 1981 Mrs Thatcher moved him to the Northern Ireland Office.

He was thrown in at the deep end as Bobby Sands and fellow republicans in the Maze Prison were starting their hunger strike for political status.

He represented Hampshire North West as MP from 1964 to 1997 and died at his home in Odiham, Hampshire, in the early hours of August 30.

Lord Ballyedmond

Northern Ireland peer Lord Ballyedmond died in a helicopter crash that  killed four men in March.

Norbrook site foreman Declan Small (42), who was from Co Down, and pilots Carl Dickerson (36) and Capt Lee Hoyle (45) also died in the crash on March 13 near his stately home in Gillingham, Norfolk.

Mourners at his funeral were told his death was a “huge loss”.

Dr Edward Haughey (70) became Lord Ballyedmond of Mourne when he was created a life peer in 2004,

His funeral took place in Newry, Co Down, a city where his veterinary pharmaceutical firm Norbrook Laboratories is a major employer.

Representatives of Northern Ireland’s main political parties also attended, including the First and Deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

Canon Francis Brown told mourners at Newry Cathedral: “Many people in Newry, and far beyond, are suffering a huge loss.”

Canon Brown said Dr Haughey’s founding of Norbrook in the late 1960s had brought employment to many people in Newry and the surrounding area.

A police escort brought the hearse to the cathedral.

Former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was in the congregation.

Dr Haughey lived in Rostrevor, Co Down, and owned Gillingham Hall, near the crash site.


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