This week’s Friday’s Child is Jacqueline Williamson, chief executive of Kinship Care NI, an organisation which works with children who are being looked after by family members when their parents are no longer able to.
How would you describe yourself?
Resilient, committed, loyal and hardworking.
Happiest childhood memory?
My grandmother taking my sister, Karen and I to pick strawberries in my home town of Fivemiletown, playing hopscotch and winning all the medals for badminton and running on sports day.
What was your first job?
When I was 18 I worked in a Chinese takeaway from 6pm to 3am for £1.50 an hour. I had no money and a new born baby to think about so it was a job worth taking.
Can’t really single one out, have quite a few favourites like the Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, My Cousin Vinny and Field of Dreams.
Favourite method of relaxation?
Taking my very obese, but extremely beautiful chocolate labrador ‘Maggie’ to the beach, reading and listening to the radio.
Who would you most like to meet?
The philanthropist Chuck Feeney, the rapper and songwriter Will I Am and Simon Cowell. I would also like to meet my two siblings who were adopted before I was born and who are unlikely to know I exist (happy for anyone to come forward and help me).
What makes you angry?
Animal cruelty, and injustice especially when it impacts on children.
What makes you happy?
My son coming home from America for Christmas and knowing he is doing well for himself at University. Spending time with friends and having a laugh.
What human quality do you most admire?
In no particular order - humour, empathy, strength, compassion, honour and intelligence.
What has been the most embarrassing thing to happen to you?
The one that sticks out the most is when I was running late for a meeting and had to go to the toilet. Unknown to me I had tucked the bottom of my skirt into my underwear. Very embarrassing but all you ladies out there know it is very easily done. I know now to check!
What was the worst thing to happen to you in your life?
I have experienced significant trauma in my life before being taken into care at the age of four, some of which I can remember, most I choose to forget. Growing up in care was not so bad and I was looked after very well, but there weren’t many hugs floating about and that was hard. The death of a staff member when I was 13 was difficult, having to sleep rough when I left care was horrific and the death of my sister nearly 2 years ago is still hard for me to talk about.
What is your greatest fear?
What has been the high point of your life to date?
Too many to count. The ability to look back at what happened to me as a young child and my experience of growing up in care and feeling blessed, especially as many of those I was in care with didn’t make it. It’s the simple things I care about most, like having a roof over my head, an education and getting paid for a job I truly love.
How would you like to be remembered?
Standing up for people who have no voice and not sitting on that fence getting splinters up my arse (pardon the French).
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a photo of my sister, Karen and I when we were very small children and in care together that was given to me about five years ago. Up until that point I didn’t know what I looked like as a child – thankfully now I do!
If you could be granted one wish in life, what would you ask for?
For every child in care to have the opportunity to spread their wings and achieve wonderful things in their lives
If you could write your own epitaph what would it be?
“I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried but now it’s time to say goodbye”