Sister's sad farewell as Una Crudden is laid to rest
Cancer awareness campaigner Una Crudden was "an ordinary person who did extraordinary good" mourners heard as she was finally laid to rest yesterday.
Many present wore items of teal coloured clothing - the colour Una used as her campaign colour to highlight the early symptoms of the potentially deadly disease.
Her funeral was held five years to the day that Una learned she had the same disease which 160 women in Northern Ireland were diagnosed with last year.
Despite being terminally ill, the west Belfast woman would go on to become an inspirational fundraiser and campaigner for ovarian cancer treatment over the last four years.
Father Pat Sheehan, parish priest of The Church of the Nativity, Poleglass in Dunmurry, told the packed church that the 60-year-old mother and grandmother was a formidable woman who was "a sister of mercy, daughter of charity and an angel of hope". He said: "Cancer revealed what an extraordinary person Una Crudden was. She didn't set out to set up campaigns, she just wanted to help other people from her own experience.
"She wanted everyone to do their bit in raising awareness of the symptoms and for doctors to be helped with early diagnosis."
Fr Sheehan said that even before her illness, Una had always "concern for the underdog and the disadvantaged".
He added: "Some people she inspired with her courage and perseverance, others she hounded about advertising, about her solo campaign for the training of GPs which resulted in an agreed diagnostic pathway.
"It wasn't just her voice that she wanted to be heard, her voice was for all those who suffered from ovarian cancer, and all cancers."
Una's final words and wishes were of love for her husband Felix, children and grandchildren in what was a highly emotional service.
In the order of service planned by her before she died, she wrote to her husband: "You are and always will be the love of my life."
She also told her children: "I will never leave you but am just close by waiting for you all... I will always live in your hearts, I know that," as she encouraged them to live their lives to the full and not to mourn her.
A moving poem she wrote to her six grandchildren was also read out.
Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon joined Una's family and friends from all denominations and those she worked with in her campaign at the service. She had worked with Una to light up City Hall in teal to mark ovarian cancer awareness month in March this year. Una had initially been misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome when she first sought medical advice for the cancer which has a 90% survival rate if detected early enough.
She won several awards for her work, including jointly winning the Belfast Telegraph Woman of The Year in February.
Una is survived by her husband Felix, children Lisa, Grainne, Oonagh, Phillip and Nathan, and grandchildren Rachel, Jake, Daniel, Leo, Una and Darragh.
The church ceremony was followed by a private family service at Roselawn Crematorium, Belfast.
For my beautiful grandchildren, my hope and my joy!
I wish I could spend more time with you but it was not meant to be.
But just to let you know, you all mean the world to me.
You were the meaning of my life and the force that drove me on.
In bad times and in good times you helped me remain strong.
My love for you my children, my husband will never end.
It will flow and live within your hearts no matter where I am.
For love is never ending and it will surround you everyday.
And I will watch over you and love you come what may.
So be strong for one another, and know that I am around.
How could I ever forget you, the jewels in my crown.
I love you one and all, the individual you's.
For the joy you brought into my life, the fun and laughter too.
My jokes they were my trademark, admit it they were good.
But if my living was as a comedian, we'd never have had no food!
So I leave you now just briefly, so hold me in your hearts.
For the love we share together means we will never be apart.
Una & Mum xxxx