People Focus: Local cancer survivor, Joey Kelly, on why “the beginning is always the hardest”

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Charis is a self-funded Charity based in Cookstown, Tyrone, and supports cancer patients throughout Northern Ireland. The centre provides body therapies such as massage, aromatherapy and reflexology, counselling, nutritional advice and advice with regard to benefits entitlement for patients.

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One local cancer survivor, Joey Kelly from Loughmacrory, was diagnosed with carcinoid tumours of the stomach in March 2005, a very rare form of cancer. He had to undergo major surgery following diagnosis and this resulted in his stomach being removed in addition to his spleen and oesophagus.

He was one of the first male patients to benefit from the Charis Cancer Centre and he is in no doubt of the outstanding benefits and support that it provides for people who are very much in need of such support at the time.

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Pictured with brothers and sisters at his 50th Birthday celebrations in Loughmacrory GAA clubrooms, left to right: Plunkett, Raymond, Eileen, Joey, Marie, Pearl and Shane.

“At the time of my operation I found life very tough for at least six months. The doctors had removed everything but unfortunately the fear, worry and anxiety were not removed as well. I had gone to the Charis Cancer Centre with members of the Termonmaguirc Cancer Committee and, following a discussion with Imelda McGucken, I was advised I should use the centre myself. It was through this support that I eventually found inner-peace”.

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“I could not say enough good for Imelda and the team at Charis. What they provide for people, who are in the greatest possible need, is immeasurable in terms of value. I would urge people to pick up the phone on Monday and just a few seconds of your time to vote for them could make all the difference. So many people out there have been touched by cancer and so many have benefited from Charis.”

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Pictured with family (left to right): Joseph Jnr, Noelle, Patricia and Catherine

Q&A with Joey Kelly, Loughmacrory

Joey Kelly is a native of mid-Tyrone community, Loughmacrory, and we spoke to Joey to bring you the latest in our Tyrone Life People in Focus features. Joey is married to Patricia and has three children – Catherine, Noelle and Joseph Jnr…

Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…

…your community and where you come from?

I am very fortunate to come from a small, close-knit family orientated community called Loughmacrory in mid-Tyrone. I have lived here my whole life and there is no doubt that neighbours and friends all around provide great support to each other. In recent times we have seen some fantastic developments in the community too. Just earlier this year all the groups combined to launch amazing new facilities in a £1million+ project (Click Here to read about this) that offers great resources for the community, football, handball, angling, running, walking and so much else. All these facilities are also placed beside the Lough which itself has been developed greatly over the years and provides so much entertainment, recreation and leisure for local people and also from further afield. In the year gone by there has been major football games, a massive international handball event, a national series triathlon, the Lough5 run, the relaunch of the local Band which lead the parade on county final day in Omagh plus the many angling events were also featured on TV recently too. It is a very active community and I feel very lucky to be able to go for a half-hour walk around the Lough every day now.

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“Pictured with some of my many cousins and Uncle Peter, who was the founding member of the Loughmacrory Accordion Band. This picture was taken at the initial reformation of the Band in 2009 at the opening of the new clubrooms and has since been reformed again which is great to see”

…characters in the community:

There have been many great characters over the years in Loughmacrory and it is that sort of place you could have a very long list here if you wanted!

Mary McCallan would definitely be one. Mary has been entertaining people for many years with her great stage presence over the years. I think back to the days of the Loughmacrory Talent Shows in the 1980s, which were organised by Breda Curran and were brilliant fun and entertainment. Mary would have been a key figure in those and no doubt she has been entertaining a vast amount of people on stage ever since. In particular I was lucky to have her as my partner in the ‘Loughmacrory Does Strictly” back in 2011 and this was one of the most enjoyable events I have ever been involved in. Brilliant people involved in it and just amazing craic throughout.

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“I was lucky to have her as my partner in the ‘Loughmacrory Does Strictly” back in 2011 and this was one of the most enjoyable events I have ever been involved in.”

I would have to say my Uncle, Peter Curran, would have been a very important character in Loughmacrory for many years through his work in handball, in the community development, the youth club, pioneers association, credit union and he was Principal of the Dean Maguirc College – to name just a few! He also founded the Loughmacrory Band (Click Here to read story) and it was fantastic to see him lead the band this year after the Band reformed for the opening of the new facilities in the community. In fact the Band, which I would have been involved in for so many years, are back going strong again which is a great sign.

Fr. Mallon would also have to be on any character list in Loughmacrory. We were blessed to get him as our Curate nine years ago, he was a retired PP. I am fortunate to now call him a good friend and to say he possesses a ‘wealth of knowledge’ is understating the fact.

My son, Joseph Kelly Jnr, has definitely been a character in our house and from what I can gather is a bit of a character in the community too. The fact he has become known as CJ “Crazy Joe” tells  a lot – I hope it’s not a reference to myself 🙂 – When I hear that nickname though it would worry me when he is heading off with the lads like last weekend for a ‘Stag’ in Liverpool and that he doesn’t feel it necessary to live up to his nickname! Having said that I’m delighted to see he is also a responsible teacher now in Galbally Primary School.

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“My son, Joseph Kelly Jnr, has definitely been a character in our house and from what I can gather is a bit of a character in the community too.”

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“Another very well known character I think I should mention who is not actually from Loughmacrory but is very much known as a character throughout the parish is local politician, Barry McElduff. He would be very well known for his ‘quick-wit’ and having an answer for most situations plus he is quite often a ‘celebrity judge’ at various events around the country. I should mention that my daughter, Catherine, is now his PA and she would say that there is a very much professional side to him in his important role that people would not see.”

Hobbies & interests:

My biggest interest all my life has been in lorries and cars and they played a massive role in my life and career.

I would be involved in a number of charity groups and with the amazing support I received myself it has been good to give back too. I am the current Chairman of the ‘Termonmaguirc Cancer Patients Comfort Fund’ which provides help to people suffering from cancer in the Termonmaguirc parish and as members of the Carrickmore Health Centre. The committee is made up of seven people with Vera McElroy, Jean Coyle, Bernie McCallan and Regina Donaghy who would have been the four founding members of the group and Vincent Meenagh, Pauline Bowman and myself. I would be on the committee almost eight years now.

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There have been so many great events which have seen people selflessly give their time to raise funds for the local charity. Pictured here with Aunt, Josie McElduff, and cousins following a fundraiser which saw £6,300 presented in 2011

The charity would have been supported by many people and events in the parish and beyond too. The Lough5 Race, which is run every year on New Year’s Eve, is an example while the ‘Walk for Sandra’ earlier this year from Mountfield Primary school to Loughmacrory saw over £30,000 raised in total with Cathal Kelly and family putting in a huge effort in that amazing social event. More recently there was the ‘Vintage Tractor Day’ which Mickey Haughey organised at his field in Carrickmore and this attracted huge crowds too and was a great day that saw over £8,000 raised. Then even outside the parish there was the likes of the first ever public ‘Angling Event’ held at Camlough Lodge by the Potter Family, who had family members affected by Cancer. There are so many people who support the Charity and the sense of giving by so many people is really heartwarming. I also think of the recent ‘Cancer is a Drag’ Show which was staged over two nights in the Charm Inn, Carrickmore, as this raised much needed funds too and provided such brilliant entertainment to so many who attended in the process.

“It is definitely very gratifying to be involved in the group and to see first-hand the amazing amount of selfless work that so many people do in the parish.”

Outside of this I would be an avid follower of gaelic games and in particular the Loughmacrory football and handball clubs. I would go to watch the Loughmacrory footballers anywhere and really enjoy all games. In addition of course I would be a very ardent Tyrone team supporter and will never forget those three very special days in Croke Park when the county won the All Irelands in 2003, 2005 and 2008. I think how fortunate I am to have been at those when I think that my Father-in-law lived to 92 and never seen Tyrone win an All Ireland. Hopefully we will get to see more in the not too distant future again too!

Walking around the Lough would have to be my favourite pastime and one I enjoy greatly.

My life & favourites…

Name 2 people who you’ve always thought were ‘spitting doubles’:

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“Another great Loughmacrory character, Peter O’Donnell, I think resembles an ‘old-time’ favourite actor, George Formby.”

Sports: Gaelic football, handball and hurling

Sports Stars: Former Tyrone GAA stars such as Peter Canavan and Mickey McGee and current players such as Stephen O’Neill (albeit he has just retired) and Justin McMahon.

TV Shows: Emmerdale, Love/Hate and Deal or No Deal

TV Personality: Keith Lemon

Radio: I enjoy listening to the Stephen Nolan Show

Movie: An ‘oldie’ – The Quiet Man

Actor: another ‘oldie’ – John Wayne

Music: Any country music and in particular the ‘oldies’ again like Jim Reeves and Charlie Pride. I do really enjoy newer stars too like Derek Ryan and Justin McGurk though. Justin recently released a single “If I could take your place”, after his wife was diagnosed with Cancer and is a fantastic song (video below)

Comedy: Mrs Brown’s Boys

Venues: The Strule Arts Centre, The Burnavon and Croke Park

Most memorable occasion: No doubt about it – the 2003 All Ireland Football Final. While this was so special as it was Tyrone’s first ever All Ireland success, it was also very significant for me as myself, my father (Joe) and my son (Joey Jnr), 3 generations, all travelled to the game together. My father had been diagnosed with cancer just over two years earlier and at the time he had been told he had just six months to live. He was there to enjoy that occasion with us. He passed away in December 2005. I remember the Peter Canavan speech after the game was very emotional and on the TV pictures after the game it showed myself and my father together celebrating during the speech!

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Father and Son – Joey with his father, Joe, and a Scania Lorry, something that would have been a very big feature in both their lives.

Facebook or Twitter? I’m on twitter but have never really got into it. Facebook is addictive and I really enjoy it for the news and gossip!

Inspirational Quote you like?

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