Death of Pat Hume - Family says it is ‘heartbroken’

The Hume family has said it is heartbroken at Pat Hume’s death but praised the work of those who cared for her over recent days.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 11:15 am
John and Pat Hume. Picture by Hugh Gallagher

In a statement, the Hume family this evening confirmed: “We are heartbroken to announce the death of Pat Hume at home in Derry earlier this afternoon after a short illness. Pat died as she lived – surrounded by family, peacefully and generous to the end.

“Pat spent some days in the hospital in the days preceding her death and she saw first-hand the outstanding work that healthcare workers do, and the pressures that they are facing due to covid. She would prioritise public health at all times. Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course which will adhere to Covid guidance. The wake will be restricted to family only.

“We would like to express our thanks to the doctors and nurses of Glendermott Medical Centre, Dr Aaron Peace, the cardiology, palliative care teams and the staff of the Ambulatory Care Unit at Altnagelvin hospital, the Ambulance Service, the Foyle Hospice and all those who gave Pat such outstanding care.”

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The current SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood has led tributes.

He said that Pat’s compassion, fortitude and strength of character was a driving force behind the peace process and paid tribute to the leadership she has shown in Derry throughout her life.

Colum Eastwood said: “Without Pat Hume, there would have been no peace process in Ireland, that’s the simple truth. The compassion, integrity and immense fortitude that defined her incredible character breathed life into our peace over the course of a long campaign that, at times, must have looked like it would never bear fruit. Pat never gave up faith.

“Pat was, of course, John’s guiding light. She was his constant companion, sharing the road and easing the burden in the most difficult of times. When they came under public pressure and attacks on their home for doing what they knew was right, she remained his rock. The scale of his achievement was made possible by the depth of her love. But she was, in her own right, a fierce champion for peace and justice.

“Pat holds a special place in the hearts of the people of this city. She would have done anything for them and in return, they loved her. Our city is in mourning tonight for a woman who showed us unconditional compassion and support every day of her life. We all live in an Ireland that she nurtured, at peace with itself and free to set its own destiny. It is an incredible legacy that will never be forgotten.

“My thoughts are with Pat’s children Aine, Therese, Aiden, John and Mo, her beloved grandchildren and their wide circle of friends at this incredible difficult time.”

Business leader Stephen Kelly, CEO of Manufacturing NI, posted on Facebook as news of Pat Hume’s death was confirmed: “Terribly sad news. What an amazing woman.”

SDLP councillor Mary Durkan posted: “So sad to learn of the passing of Pat Hume. So blessed to have known Pat as a friend and mentor, having been inspired and encouraged by her from a young age. Always treating everyone with care and compassion. So generous and truly selfless. One very special lady and a proud Derry Girl. Heartfelt grá with the many people who loved Pat, especially her beloved children Áine, John Jr, Aidan, Thérèse and Mo and the wider family.”

Marie Lindsay, former head of St Mary’s College tweeted after learning of Pat Hume’s death, saying: “Deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Pat Hume. She was an incredible role model for all of us. So very lucky to have known her and called her my friend. Blessed are the Peacemakers. Suaimhneas síoraí dá h-anam.”

SDLP MLA Sinead McLaughlin posted: “Heartbreaking news at the sad passing of Pat Hume. There was nobody quite like her. She was a rock to her family and also a rock for many people in Derry. I will miss her but I will never forget her. One of a kind.”

And the DUP MLA Gary Middleton wrote: “Very sorry to hear of the passing of Pat Hume. On every occasion in which I met her she was always courteous and her passion for our city was so radiant. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the Hume family and the wider circle at this time.”

Sympathy was also expressed by Sinn Fein MLA, Martina Anderson who tweeted: “Deepest condolence to the Hume family following the death of their mother Pat, wife of the late John Hume. Mrs Hume RIP passed away earlier today after a short illness. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.”

In her tribute, the SDLP’s Claire Hanna wrote: “I don’t really have words yet for how sad I am that Pat Hume has died. You’d never meet anyone like her - sharp, warm, decent, fun. Generous with her time and thoughts, made everyone feel valued and never stopped doing things for good. An immeasurable loss to her family, and us all.”

The role played by Pat Hume has been widely recognised for many years.

At the funeral of her husband last year, Fr Paul Farren told mourners that it is not only John Hume who has secured his place in the history of this island, but also his wife Pat.

“When the history of Ireland is written, if Pat Hume’s name is not beside John’s, it will be an incomplete history,” he said in his homily.

In 2018, the Red Cross announced that it was to honour Pat for her decades of public service, with a Lifetime Achievement honour at the Irish Red Cross Humanitarian Awards.

Tara Justin, from the Irish Red Cross, said at the time: “We are recognising Pat Hume with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her decades of support and commitment to the Derry public and her wider contribution to the peace process.”