Poetry book to raise funds for hospice

BANBRIDGE cancer survivor and prolific charity fundraiser, Eugene Fullerton, is launching his third book of poems this month, cataloguing more of his thoughts on current affairs, history, nature and life itself.

Entitled ‘The Older I Get the Wiser My Father Becomes’, the book contains 222 poems, some of which capture the Ballyvarley man’s thoughts and feelings.

“Some of the poems are serious, humorous and philosophical - whatever comes into my head really,” he says. “Writing poems has definitely been therapeutic for me and I have managed to raise some much-needed funds for the hospice which has been the main objective.”

In fact, Eugene’s previous two compilations have raised a total of £1,000 for the hospice and the hope is that the third in the triology will bring in another £500 or £600.

As a member of the hospice board, the 60 year-old local poet is acutely aware of the huge amount of money needed to keep it running, with the fundraising target for this year alone set at £2.3 million. He is also acutely aware of the vital work it carries out, having last year lost a sister who was cared for at the hospice.

At his busiest, Eugene penned “a poem a day” and favours “down-to-earth”, rhyming poetry, confessing himself to be “no Seamus Heaney”.

“I always liked writing and poetry, but when I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, writing poems took on a new importance for me,” said Eugene, who started up his EF Engineering business in the district 35 years ago.

“Up until my diagnosis, I had never been out of work in 40 years, so it was all such a shock to my system. I ended up having to have my oesophagus removed and my stomach was pulled up into my chest area and joined on to my throat.

“It was a major operation and although I am very lucky to be alive, life is never quite the same. I am known around here as ‘Miracle Man’ these days and in some ways that is true.

“I was told that this type of surgery is the biggest operation carried out at Craigavon Area Hospital.”

Today, the father of six and grandfather to 10 grandchildren remains stoical about his situation and has come to terms with the necessary changes in diet and the smaller portions of food he must now eat.

“After the surgery, my food needed to be liquidised and my throat had to be stretched several times,” he adds. “Now, when I eat, my stomach swells and there is some pain, but you just get used to it and get on with things.

“I have been one of the lucky ones and I have had great support from my family and friends. My wife Winnifred and I will be married 40 years in August and she is my ‘rock’.”

Eugene’s book will be launched in the Parish Centre, Scarva Road, Banbridge, on Friday, April 19, at eight o’clock.

Everyone is welcome to drop in and enjoy a glass of wine and some nibbles, listen to some poetry - and then, hopefully, buy a book.