Brave Bernie was ‘an inspiration to us and all those who knew her’

Martin Myles and sons Christopher, Stephen and Sean presenting a cheque to  Foyle Hospice staff nurse Marion ODonnell for �4,550, proceeds from a tea dance held in Benedy Hall, Dungiven in memory of Bernie Myles

Martin Myles and sons Christopher, Stephen and Sean presenting a cheque to Foyle Hospice staff nurse Marion ODonnell for �4,550, proceeds from a tea dance held in Benedy Hall, Dungiven in memory of Bernie Myles

Straight talking Martin Myles from Dungiven believes life shouldn’t just be about what you can get, but also about giving back at every opportunity.

Talking from experience, Martin and his three sons did just that before Christmas despite their heartache.

Martin Myles and his late wife, Bernie.

Martin Myles and his late wife, Bernie.

Just 10 months previously, Martin’s wife of 29 years lost her battle with cancer.

Bernie, who for years worked as a supervisor in Desmond’s factory in Claudy, was 63 when she died on February 23, 2016.

Martin, a veteran firefighter of 30 years, and his three grown-up sons - Christopher (27), Sean (24) and Stephen (23) - were devastated the woman at their heart of their lives was gone.

“Bernie never complained about her sickness,” said Martin, who described his wife as “one of a kind.”

Martin Myles from Dungiven with Phyllis Farren and Agnes Bonner and  Marion O'Donnell, Staff Nurse, Foyle Hospice handing over a cheque from the proceeds of a charity dance in the Benedy.

Martin Myles from Dungiven with Phyllis Farren and Agnes Bonner and Marion O'Donnell, Staff Nurse, Foyle Hospice handing over a cheque from the proceeds of a charity dance in the Benedy.

“She was diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago. Then she got sick again three years ago. The last two weeks she really went downhill.”

In her final days, Bernie was cared for by her devoted husband and sons. She was also attended to by a Hospice nurse.

Glen Caring staff visited during the day while Marie Curie nurses came in at night so the family could get some sleep.

The family asked for family flowers only at her funeral while welcoming donations for Marie Curie. They received more than £1,000 in donations.

Late last year, Martin had the idea for the fundraiser.

“I said to the boys why don’t we do a dance up in the Benedy for the hospice?” Martin recalled.

“We wanted to raise money to help someone else during their last days.”

The dance was a great success and raised a whopping £4,550.

“We had great support and a great time,” said Martin, who is originally from the Benedy.

Martin said Bernie would be proud of her family for the fundraiser.

“She would be proud and we’re happy to have played our part,” he said. “I always say we’re lucky to have the hospice and they’re lucky to have the community.”

Stephen said his mum was an inspiration not just to him, but to those who knew her.

Having witnessed the care his mum received, and looking after her with his brothers and father, Stephen said he’s been inspired to train as a nurse.

He’s currently studying to fulfil that goal.

“Mammy was my best friend. I looked up to her. She was an inspiration, not just to me but to others,” said Stephen.

The proceeds from the tea dance have been handed over to the hospice and the family now want to thank everyone who made the event such a success, in particular, Phyllis Farren and Agnes Bonner.

“That’s what it’s all about, helping people,” said Martin.

Foyle Hospice provides palliative and end-of-life care for patients suffering from cancer. Patients with other life-limiting illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis are also cared for.

The hospice states on its website: “As a registered charity, care to patients and their families is free of charge and we depend on the generosity of our local community to raise the approximate £2.8 million that is currently required annually to maintain our essential services.”

Find out more at foylehospice.com