This exceptional story of the late Maureen Patton from Co Down, Northern Ireland and her courage, resilience and love for farming inspires us.
Bringing up 4 children is no easy task. When faced with the loss of her husband when the eldest was 9 and the youngest was 2, everyday life becomes more of a challenge than you can imagine. This exceptional story of the late Maureen Patton from Co Down, Northern Ireland and her courage, resilience and love for farming inspires me.
At the young age of 11 Maureen tragically lost her Mum. Her dear father sent her on to Grammar School and Tech. Maureen began work within the investment team of the Northern Bank at the age of 18. In her spare time she was a member of Young Farmers being a County Secretary and then to travel on an exchange to Canada.
Maureen returned and three years later married her boyfriend Thomas in April 1972. Her son Geoffrey arrived in March 1975 and then daughters Hazel, Jill and Elaine in 1976,1979 and 1981. It was the dreaded testicular cancer that took the life of her husband in 1984. At this time, the mention of testicular or prostrate cancer was not spoken about and it was hard for Maureen to talk about it, even to her friends and family.
At A Crossroads
At this crossroads when big decisions would be required, Maureen was determined to keep the family farm going no matter what. Geoffrey was aged 9 and had a great interest in the farm and love of cows. Although she grew up on an arable farm, Maureen continued running the dairy farm with the help of her brother -in-law, George, alongside bringing up her four children. She milked the cows before the school run and then again in the evening before putting them to bed. Despite her busy life, she put her heart and soul into making sure the children were educated to the highest standard with all the extra skills of music lessons, sports and youth activities.
With her children grown up and married, her grandchildren arrived and she managed to find time for each and everyone just as if they were the only one! Her other passion was gardening. If she wasn’t in the garden weeding, pruning, cutting the grass pr moving things from one end to the other she was at the local garden centre buying plants. When she was in her garden, or sitting in the kitchen reading a garden magazine, her golden retriever wasn’t far away. She loved dogs and one of them even saved her life in 1993 when she was gored by a bull and her dog, Polar, barked until the bull left her alone.
General Go-fer and Farm Manager
As a keen member of the Women’s Institute, the love of baking came. Her involvement in WI led to her leading the campaign to get smoking banned in public places in NI and she met the Queen as part of this. She was such a determined lady and did not stop campaigning until the ban was introduced in 2007.
But above all, she loved her family and was devoted to them all. Each of her daughters used to phone her, or she phoned them, every day, just to make sure everyone was OK. She was not only her son’s business partner and mummy, but also farm bookkeeper, general go-fer, and farm manager when Geoffrey was on away on holiday or at a cow sale, checking the cows and feeding the odd sick calf. She put her family above herself every minute of every day and if one word could sum up Maureen Patton, it was ‘selfless.’
As Hazel, her daughter, said so many times, ‘We are the lucky ones to have such an amazing lady as our mummy.’ She was a best friend to each of her children, and a loyal friend to so many others. If you ever wanted to confide in someone, knowing it would never go any further, you could rely on Maureen. Although her children always joked that their mum would never be able to pass on a story, as she wouldn’t hear all of it and forget half of it in the telling anyway!
Having been out all day at a Cancer Fund raising event with her daughters, she had gone to make sure her son and the farm were ok before heading to Geoffrey’s house to see her grandchildren and help them with their homework. Her purpose was looking after her children and grandchildren. In the end, she died doing what she made her tick. A tragic accident resulted in her passing that day leaving her family heartbroken.
The strength, determination, selflessness, thoughtfulness, and boundless love of a lady who took on every challenge and embraced life. On International Women’s Day we celebrate Maureen and all women like her.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
Who inspires you?