Clock that survived two world wars and an IRA bomb attack brought out of storage for new charity’s early detection campaign
An iconic Belfast clock the IRA almost called time on in the 1980s has been brought back to life for a campaign marking Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
The timepiece, which looked down from the Hughes Bakery (later Peter Pans) on the Springfield Road, has been brought out of storage for the Time Matters campaign, which is stressing the importance of early detection of pancreatic cancer.
The drive, launched by the new charity Nipanc, runs throughout November and features famous clocks from across Northern Ireland, including the Albert Memorial Clock and the former Belfast Telegraph clock.
The famous Hughes clock was a part of life in the city for more than 100 years
The timepiece, which survived two world wars and an IRA bomb blast, was introduced to the city by Barney Hughes, creator of the Belfast bap.
It was removed for its own protection during the 80s by Michael Hurrell, who bought the former bakery in the 1970s.
The clock has been restored twice by Mr Hurrell and has spent the last few years in storage at his son Brendan’s home in Antrim.
When Brendan read about the Time Matters campaign in Sunday Life, he jumped at the chance to take the clock out of storage because the cause is one that’s close to his heart.
“I was reading Sunday Life when the headline ‘iconic clocks’ drew my eye, then when I read about the campaign for pancreatic cancer, I was even more interested,” he said.
“A good friend of my wife died from pancreatic cancer three years ago because it wasn’t caught in time.
“Collette Lavery was from Randalstown and had just made it to her 50th birthday. She was super-fit and in great shape and then, all of a sudden, she took poorly.
“I knew I had a good clock here, and so with the campaign I had a foot in both camps. I contacted the charity to see if they would be interested in using the clock.”
The clock, which people in west Belfast set their watches to for more than 100 years, was taken after down when it survived a terrorist attack.
“There was a massive bomb at the rear of the bakery and over half the building was ruined,” Brendan said.
“It was lucky the clock didn’t get blown onto the street.
“My father decided to take it down to protect it. He took it to get it refurbished and the old chain mechanism was removed and it was given an electric motor.
“My father kept it at his home until a few years ago, when he gave it to me.
“I didn’t want to put it outside in case it was damaged by the weather, so it has been in a cover in the shed.
“I think that it’s wonderful that such a famous clock can now come out of the closet for such a great cause.”
Nipanc board member Lisa Strutt, whose husband died of pancreatic cancer last year, said there had been a great response to the campaign.
She added: “Our Time Matters campaign is using images of iconic clocks to raise awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the urgent need for early diagnosis.
“It seems to have struck a chord. We’ve had lots of public engagement and none better than this.
“We were thrilled when Brendan, who read about our campaign in Sunday Life, contacted us about this beauty of a clock and its nostalgic backstory.
“We are so grateful to him because it has brought about a story that will help to save lives. That is our primary objective.”
To find out more about Nipanc and the Time Matters campaign, visit www.nipanc.org