David and Mary encourage the farming community to support Marie Curie in Twilight

Marie Curie’s Twilight Walk will take place on Friday 30th September at Barnet Demesne, Belfastwhere people will come together to walk in memory of loved ones and in support of a leading bereavement specialist.

And is also a longtime supporter of Marie Curie’s caring services Northern IrelandDavid has another special reason for asking members to support this worthy cause.

Mary, his wife of 30 years, has worked for Marie Curie as a nurse for the past three years, visiting homes in the west of the province to provide end-of-life care for people with terminal illnesses.

UFU President David Brown and his wife Mary, who is a Marie Curie nurse, at the family farm in Florencecourt. The couple are encouraging people to take part in the Marie Curie Twilight Walk. Photo: John McVitie

David is as proud of her as she is of him and his new role in representing farmers as they face tough times.

The Co Fermanagh man commented: “Sometimes I come to a funeral in the community and someone comes up to me to say hello, shake my hand and say thank you for everything Mary did for their loved one as a Marie Curie nurse and myself. didn’t even know that Mary even called that house.

“I have no idea who she’s talking to. She is so reserved and so selfless that she just gets up and goes out doing great work and helping people and their relatives in their last days.”

David is the fifth generation of his family to farm his beef and sheep business in Florencecourt.

UFU President David Brown and his wife Mary, who is a Marie Curie nurse, at the family farm in Florencecourt. The couple are encouraging people to take part in the Marie Curie Twilight Walk. Photo: John McVitie

The day-to-day running of the farm came second to the demands of his UFU presidency, which takes up most of his Monday to Saturday week.

David admits he could not have held his position, representing more than 11,500 farming families, without the support of his own family, including Mary, his four grown children and one grandchild.

He continued: “When I ran for vice president in 2018, I remember saying that my family didn’t get the votes, but of course they had the veto.

“If they weren’t supportive, I certainly wouldn’t have put my name forward. I have essentially been a part-time farmer since I took over as there are still some tasks waiting for me to complete on Saturday.”

His support for Marie Curie means thousands of pounds have already been raised at various UFU events across Northern Ireland, with large yellow collection buckets generously handed out to members.

Mary works two nights a week, providing Marie Curie overnight visits to people or the Marie Curie Emergency Response Service, which answers nursing calls every night and all day at weekends and public holidays.

After 24 years working at a local nursing home, Mary wanted a change of direction and a new challenge.

She began working one night a week for Marie Curie while keeping her nursing home job, but after six months she was working exclusively for Marie Curie.

Mary explained: “What I love most is knowing that I was a small part of a team in the community that enabled a family to keep their loved one at home when it was their last wish.

“It is a support for the family at a time when they are exhausted, they are so grateful and trusting to leave them in our care.

“Marie Curie is a charity that is highly valued in the community and I am aware of that every time I put on my uniform.

“In the Fermanagh and Omagh area we have a great team of Marie Curie nurses and paramedics who support each other.

“Privacy is very important to me as a nurse. When I look after someone in the local community who knows me, I usually try to find a way to tell them that my family doesn’t really know where I am for the night.

“I guess, first of all, I’m a Marie Curie nurse who comes to their house, and whether they know me or not, it doesn’t affect the care I give.”

A typical night for Mary in the emergency department is between 10pm and 8am at the Western Ambulance Service (WUC) base in Enniskillen at the South West Emergency Hospital.

Calls are screened and allocated to Marie Curie if they are related to palliative care issues such as symptom management, end-of-life care, catheter issues, or care needed after expected death.

“Our ambulance service helps prevent unnecessary hospital admissions by ensuring people can spend their final days where they want to be, whether that’s their own home or a care home,” she said.

“Also, if a paramedic is with someone overnight, we may be called in to give breakthrough medications.

“We cover a large geographical area, the whole of Fermanagh and parts of Tyrone, reaching the Castlederg and Carrickmore areas.

“On these visits, we are accompanied by a driver from WUC. Weekend day shifts are 8:00am to 4:00pm and 4:00pm to 10:00pm.

“On these shifts, the nursing team often comes in and requests a visit with their patient.”

It was this dedication to the community that impressed David the most, long before Mary began working for Marie Curie.

He added: “Particularly in rural areas, there is a sense of vulnerability for families as people go through their final days, not just for patients but also for their families.

“There are a lot of people who live on their own and may not have family to visit them or anyone around. Marie Curie was there for a member of my extended family who died and I was always impressed by how good the service was.

“Typically, the farming community really appreciates this service when people are at the end of life and need this kind of support.

“I see so many obituaries asking for Marie Curie donations. The nurses may have only been with this family for a couple of nights or even one night, but the importance of this help and support is deeply etched in the collective memory of the people, because Marie Curie was there for them when they needed her the most.”

The couple are encouraging the farming community to come out and support the Marie Curie Twilight March later this month.

Alternatively, people can organize their own local walk to raise money.

Every £180 raised covers a night of care either in the community or at a Belfast hospice. David and Mary encourage the farming community to support Marie Curie in Twilight

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