Eileen walked tall despite life's many challenges
WHEN Eileen Drayne went to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE in 1999, she was determined to walk to the Queen.
Four years previously Eileen had a massive stroke and although she had made a remarkable recovery, she relied on a stick.
The award, for services to charity and the community, was a very proud moment for Eileen, her family and the Lisburn community and a young footman helped ensure she walked tall that day.
She would tell with a hearty laugh the story about 'getting a toy boy' when she went to visit the Queen. Eileen was born in England in 1925, the youngest of five children, but the family returned to Ireland a couple of years later and settled in Lisburn, living in a thatched cottage which has long since been demolished.
At the age of six her mother died, and at 17 her father passed away.
Further tragedy struck when her only brother John was killed in the Far East during the Second World War. Eileen would always abhor violence.
In 1946 Eileen married Seamus Drayne. They were a devoted couple and loved equally all of their 10 children.
Along with Seamus and his brothers Aidan and Dermot, she worked tirelessly in the family milk business which has continued to expand over the years.
Her beloved husband died after a long illness in 1977. However, the sad loss inspired her to works of charity.
For 25 years Eileen organised and delivered the Meals on Wheels service in Lisburn.
She lived her faith through charitable actions: Save the Children, Combat Cancer, the Apostolic Missionary work and Board of Visitors of Magilligan Prison are just some of the charities Eileen was actively involved with - and she continued with
some of them years after her stroke.
Eileen loved life and enjoyed every family gathering, party and celebration. Ballymacash House was always a place of welcome to people from all over the world.
She was passionate about respect and equality within the family and wider community.
Eileen was also a very proud member of the Women's Institute and enjoyed attending the meetings which were held in a local Orange hall.
At the start of 1995 she travelled to New Zealand and Hong Kong with the WI and they remained very faithful to Eileen over the years.
Eileen accepted her stroke and the changes it brought with dignity, courage and humour.
She was supported through her journey by her entire family circle.
For the last four years of her life her home was Nicholson House, Lisburn where she was shown unconditional love on a daily basis.
She died there on January 12, four days before her 90th birthday.
Eileen inspired her family to keep the faith and stay together and although greatly missed, she will live on within all of us.