This week’s Friday’s Child is the city’s Mayor Brenda Stevenson. A former Thornhill College pupil and Queen’s University Belfast graduate, Brenda has been employed as a Speech and Language Therapy Instructor with the Western Trust for over 10 years. Brenda lives in Claudy with her husband Tommy, and her two sons, Ben and Ross. A member of the Hume family, Brenda is the daughter of Paddy and Bridget Hume and niece of Nobel Laureate John Hume.
How would describe yourself ?
Practical, focussed and caring ... A proud, passionate Derry woman.
Happiest childhood memory?
Summers spent on my grandparents farm in County Tyrone with my siblings and parents. Also warm summer days spent on the beach in Rosses Point, County Sligo. My recollections of summer were of long sunny days spent outdoors generally mucking about and getting into mischief.
What was your first job?
Waiting on the tables in the Leprechaun on the Strand Road in Derry I started there when I was sixteen and stayed there part-time until I left University. It was a busy wee spot and I remember being promoted to the cake shop and I was in my element because you could see all the talent going up and down the Strand Road on a Saturday.
I’ve been an avid reader all my life so I’ve read anything from Enid Blyton right through to biographies, science fiction, political science to Rom-com and romantic fiction. The latest book I read over Christmas was “Faithfully Yours” by Sheila O Flanagan about a man leading a double life and following an accident his two lives collide it was an interesting read. I also particularly liked “Gone Girl” by Gilliian Flynn and “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. I’ve also read all of our local author Claire Allan’s books - she is a talented and witty writer and her books are a pleasure to read.
What’s you favourite film?
I have two that are hard to choose between The Quiet Man and Gone with the Wind. The oldies are the best.
Favourite television programme.
Come Dine With Me - a bit of light entertainment not that I get to see much television these days.
No bother hi that’s grand .... A real Derry saying.
Favourite method of relaxing.
I don’t get much time to relax nowadays but in the past walking, yoga and reading would have been high up on my list of methods of relaxing.
Favourite holiday destination.
New York is definitely up there I’ve been three times and never tire of it. I also discovered Bulgaria a few years ago and I’ve been there a few times. They are polar opposites in terms of holiday destinations but equally interesting and attractive.
Who would you most like to meet.
Probably Stephen Hawking he is someone who has faced adversity but has overcome his challenges and has been ground breaking in terms of his work in Education. I’ve been blessed to meet many interesting people in my life and one of my greatest influencers has been my own uncle John Hume, Nobel laureate, peace maker and Ireland’s greatest, he sacrificed so much for peace on this small Island, we could and should learn from his journey in life. His wife Pat to this day is one of my greatest inspirations, a loyal, loving person, she epitomises the phrase “behind every good man there is a greater woman.”
What makes you angry.
The lack of political progress here in Northern Ireland we have had relative peace since the Good Friday Agreement but have not seen the dividend of the peace process here in the North West.
What makes you happy?
Being among my family and friends those I treasure the most, they look out for me and keep me grounded.
What human quality do you most admire?
People who show sympathy and empathy to those around them. The ability to accept others for what they are not what you’d want them to b – real human qualities.
What human quality do you least admire.
Jealousy I hate it when people can’t celebrate the successes of others mainly because they feel threatened by it. Narrow minded judgement.
What has been the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you.
Failing my driving test six times before getting it on the seventh attempt or attending a wedding wearing a pair of shoes that were two different sizes I wore the shoes on numerous occasions before I figured out why one hurt and the other didn’t.
What has been the worst thing happen in your life.
The sudden death of my beloved mother-in-law Joy who passed away really suddenly almost 14 years ago. It had a real impact on the whole family it made me realise how fragile life is and how important it is to live every day to the full as you never know when it may be your last.
What’s your greatest fear.
Losing my family. I’ve been blessed to grow up in a very close knit family, my parents were married 50 years at Christmas and my siblings and I and our families remain close and loyal to each other. I’d be lost without them.
What’s the high point of your life to date.
Meeting my husband Tommy – he is my rock and soul mate, the births of our two sons Ben and Ross are my greatest achievements to date and more latterly becoming the very last ever Mayor and First Citizen of my Legenderry City. That’s something I’ll always be very proud of.
How would you like to be remembered.
As a loyal, compassionate, hard working person who only wanted what was best for everyone I came into contact with. If you asked my friends this they’d probably say she was a bit of a party animal too, a bit of a hair brush diva and a walking wardrobe !!!
What’s your most treasured possession.
Without a doubt my family and friends they have shaped the person I have become and I’m eternally grateful for each and everyone of them.
If you won the lotto what would you do with it.
I’ll let you know from Mexico don’t come looking for me !!
If you could be granted one wish in life what would it be.
To erase child poverty in our City, make sure everyone has a job and a good quality of life. We still have so many problems in our City and whilst we work hard to try and eradicate them at times it would be nice to have a magic wand that I could wave that would fix all our problems.
If you could write your own epitaph.
She worked hard, tried hard succeeded at times, achieved much and lived her life to the full... Her motto was if you believe you are halfway there!!!
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