Crohn's charity chief 'left legacy of helping others'
Peri Gillespie, who died last Sunday aged 56, was a founding member of the Northern Ireland network of Crohn's and Colitis UK.
She was born in Glengormley on April 22, 1962. At the age of 25, when her children were 16 months and two-months-old, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. This is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK. The other is ulcerative colitis.
Mrs Gillespie was ill for over two years before being diagnosed.
In April 1989, while undergoing tests, her bowel perforated and she had to have an ileostomy. Eight years later she developed intestinal failure, which meant that she did not have enough bowel to digest food normally and she had to administer numerous fluids into her stomach each day. She had been treated for a long time with infliximab every six weeks.
Despite her illness she led a very active life. She served for 10 years with the charity's Northern Ireland network and later as co-chair with Audrey Derby, another founding member.
Audrey said: "Peri was very courageous and she came through so much. She was a good fundraiser and a great supporter of the charity. I shall miss her terribly and so will her family and wide circle of friends."
Peri had many interests. She was a Rainbow Guide leader, a Legion Rose in the British Legion, a member of a shooting club and a member of the British Motorcyclists Federation.
Audrey added: "She loved to travel pillion with her husband David on their motorbike all over Europe, even when on tube feed.
"She was an avid supporter of Ulster Rugby and travelled to away games especially in France and Italy, and even to their first game in South Africa.
"She also tried her hand at amateur radio.
"She joined her husband on their boat, even though she did not like the water and could not swim.
"She loved shopping, cats, the colour purple and jewellery."
Paying tribute, David Risser from Crohn's and Colitis UK said: "She has truly left a legacy for the great benefit of those affected."
She is survived by David, her husband of 37 years, daughter Jena, son Steve and daughter-in-law Emma, her mother Shirley, brother Guy, and her wide circle of friends.
Her funeral will take place tomorrow from Mulholland's Funeral Home in Carrickfergus at 10.30am followed by a service at Roselawn at noon.