A Day in The Life: Jean McCready
Jean began fundraising for Blesma with her late husband, Jack. She has been awarded the Cyril Stephens Award, which recognises the work of Blesma supporters...
I have lived in Portadown, Northern Ireland for more than 50 years. I finished technical college before working
for a local estate agent. In 1985, my 27-year-old sister was serving in what was then the Royal Ulster Constabulary
when the police station she was posted to was bombed. She was killed along with eight of her colleagues.
I met my husband, Jack, at a Royal British Legion dance. His friend asked if I would dance with Jack, but the whole time the band sang, Jack would sing along. I was so embarrassed! At work on the Monday, I got a call from Jack – that was in June 1977. We were together for two years before we married in December 1979.
Jack served in the Ulster Defence Regiment for 14 years before he was discharged in September 1984 because he
had diabetes. He was very disappointed. In 2004, he got an ulcer on a toe and gangrene set in. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee and two years later, the same thing happened to his left foot.
We started organising collections in aid of Blesma in January 2013. I’d get in touch with the local newspaper
to let them know what we were doing. We held collections in supermarkets, Jack gave talks about the Association,
and we even held coffee mornings which the Lord Lieutenant turned up to!
We kept fundraising through to early 2016, when Jack’s kidneys started to fail. After refusing to continue with dialysis any longer, Jack passed away at home in April 2017. In 2018, I received some Blesma Grand Prize Draw tickets and I decided to sell a few. That inspired me to continue what I had done with Jack.
I get a bit emotional when I’m fundraising now as it’s for him, too. You must keep occupied when you are on your own. I operate by helping others. I contacted all the managers of the local stores, and soon enough I was collecting donations again. I’ve also held a couple of car boot sales at my church, so everyone has got to know me. I also knit teddies, which a couple of the local ladies loved. They wanted them for their grandchildren, so I told them: ‘Make a donation and I’ll do it.’ I also made crochet poppies and everyone wanted one. It raised £180.
Together with other Blesma ladies and Widows, I have been knitting scarves and hats for homeless people, and hats for premature babies.
Receiving the Cyril Stephens Award and being recognised by Blesma was lovely. I accepted the award at Blesma’s recent Members’ Weekend, and a couple of the chaps from Northern Ireland were banging the tables when my name was called out. I was so embarrassed!