Family pays tribute to Jean Christie

Jean Christie with her husband Ivan.
Jean Christie with her husband Ivan.

THE family of physiotherapist Jean Christie have paid tribute to her after she passed away last week.

Jean, 63, died on Wednesday evening following a brave battle with cancer.

Her death shocked many of those who Jean had treated in the decades she had been working in the town – first in Banbridge Hospital before later moving into private practice.

She leaves behind husband, former Banbridge Academy teacher Ivan, 66, daughter Judith, 35, son Michael, 33, and grandchildren Evan, Mikey, Amy, Daniel and Calum.

Michael said her illness had hit the family “like a ton of bricks”.

He added: “She was the most wonderful mum. She was caring and compassionate and knew how to tackle every problem.

“Mum was the fulcrum around which our family revolved and I have no idea how we’re going to manage without her.

“But dad is made of strong stuff and he will cope, thanks to the support of friends and family.”

Jean was born in Omagh in 1948 to Willie and Amy Hood. The family, later joined by brother David, moved from Newtownstewart in Co Tyrone to Derrygonnelly in Co Fermanagh in 1954 when her dad set up his own drapery shop.

Jean, a talented badminton player, trained as a physiotherapist in Belfast the late 1960s and had spells at different hospitals across the country, including in Derry, where she met Ivan.

They married in 1973 and set up home in Tandragee before moving to Banbridge in 1981.

Hundreds attended Sunday’s funeral at Bannside Presbyterian Church at a service led by Rev Dr Mark Gray.

Many of her former patients were among those who came to pay tribute to Jean, who first came to work at Banbridge Hospital in 1973.

She went private 10 years later and worked from the family home in Tullyear Avenue until just a few months before her death.

Rev Dr Gray told how Jean had the gift of healing and saw her role as a physiotherapist as a vocation.

He also revealed how she saved the lives of some of her patients when she spotted conditions missed by doctors.

Jean had a lifelong love of singing and sang in the choir at Bannside for more than 30 years. She was also a longstanding member of the Belfast Philharmonic Choir before joining Cadenza several years ago.

Cadenza and the Bannside choir led the singing at her funeral and Cadenza performed the Rutter Benediction at the end of the service. Their leader, Michael McCracken, played the organ throughout the service.

The family asked to give a special mention to the carers who helped Jean as she battled cancer.

They include the Macmillan nurses and district nursing Sister Deirdre Burns in particular, who cared for her in the difficult final weeks of her life.