A tireless campaigner for better cardiac services for children in Northern Ireland is to run as a candidate for the Ulster Unionist Party at next month’s council elections.
Portadown woman Julie Flaherty has put her name forward for the Central ward in the battle for seats to the new ABC Council.
Mrs Flaherty faced heartache a year ago when her two-year-old son Jake died suddenly after celebrating his second birthday. She works on a voluntary basis for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, and on a visit to the Royal Victoria Hospital, became friends with Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson (UUP)
Mrs Dobson said, “I am absolutely delighted, not only to welcome Julie to the Ulster Unionist Party, but also to stand shoulder to shoulder with her as she prepares to hit the campaign trail alongside Councillor Ken Twyble in Craigavon.
“I first got to know Julie and her husband Wayne when I met them at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in August 2011. My son Mark was attending for a renal appointment and I met Julie and her precious Jake who was only a few weeks old at the time. We got chatting and I could see immediately what a passionate and caring person she is and I know she will bring these qualities with her as a Councillor for Craigavon.
“We soon found out that we lived close by and there our friendship began. Julie believes passionately in the retention of children’s cardiac facilities in Belfast and I have been proud to campaign alongside her and the charity Children’s Heartbeat Trust.
“Ken Twyble was my mentor at Craigavon Council and I will never forget how as a newly elected Councillor he was a guide and a great sounding board for me. I know he will be a fantastic asset within the New Super Council, bringing with him his wealth of experience and knowledge of helping the people of Craigavon.
“I know that both Ken and Julie will provide an excellent mix of youth, energy and experience in the new ABC Super Council.”