Edna Gillen: Model and librarian made friends wherever she went
NOT many people combine careers as a model and a librarian, but Edna Gillen was no ordinary person.
She had a passion for both fashion and literature, and an infectious personality that made friends everywhere she went.
Brought up in east Belfast and Newtownards, and a pupil at Methodist College, Edna was blessed with striking dark looks and began modelling at the age of 16.
She appeared on catwalks, in campaigns and also many hair shows after meeting her husband Gary, owner of George's salon in Belfast's Church Lane.
Edna was a firm believer that style and beauty are ageless and, as she entered her 40s, she was keen to keep working.
Identifying a gap in the market for older models, she and some friends founded the agency Models-eg and its success showed the way for many other companies today.
Of equal importance was her career as a librarian, which she took up in her adopted home of Bangor in her mid-20s.
Edna had always loved books, writing and art and instilled that love in her three beloved children as well as countless library users down the years.
Warm and friendly, she could have a conversation with anybody and friends described her as funny, kind-hearted and “beautiful both inside and out”.
By the time Edna was forced to retire after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, she had worked her way up to manager of Bangor library and was devastated to leave.
However, over the next two years she would carry herself with remarkable dignity, refusing to let her illness define her and determined to live as full a life as possible.
Even a week before her death she made sure she played a full part in a family wedding, before being re-admitted to hospital for the final time the following day.
Edna Gillen died aged 53 on September 14.
She is survived and sadly missed by her husband Gary and children Nick, Faith and Nina.