LOCAL general practitioner Trish Mathews - who practised as Dr Patricia Carson - died recently following a brief spell of illness. Dr Carson worked with her husband Dr Colin Mathews and Dr Stephen McCluskey in the Orchard Family Practice at Portadown Health Centre.
Trish, Colin and son Kyle, a final year medical student in Edinburgh, were only aware on February 20 that the cancer cells that she had bravely suppressed twice before, in 1988 and 2002, were back and that this time there was no hope of a cure. Subsequently, after only four short weeks of care in the privacy of her own home, Trish passed away peacefully on March 22, 2012.
It was always Trish’s style to avoid fuss, so she requested that she should have a private farewell. Therefore, on March 24, Colin, Kyle, family and close friends parted from Trish in a moving garden service at their home, conducted by close friend Bishop Patrick Rooke.
Patricia was born and grew up as the twin sister of Pauline in Carrickfergus, with parents (now deceased) Howard and Betty Carson. She attended Belfast Royal Academy, leaving in 1973 to start medical school at Queens University, Belfast, and whilst at school and university she was not only a successful student but also excelled on the hockey pitch. Dr Carson qualified from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1979, being one of only three medical students that year to gain honours.
It was also in 1973, at Queens, that she first met Colin. Initially as friends and then, after doing various post-graduate jobs around Belfast, and when they were both ready to settle in their chosen speciality of Primary Care, their paths crossed again in 1982. Romance blossomed and they were married in 1984, and the newlyweds moved to work in Nassau, Bahamas.
Colin and Trish came back to Northern Ireland in 1985 and Trish worked mostly in child health until joining, in 1988, her husband Dr Colin Mathews and Dr Paul McConnell as Lady Dr Carson in the old health centre. This was following the birth of Kyle and her first period of treatment for breast disease.
She was a tremendous asset to the practice and in conjunction with Dr Paul McConnell, she and Colin developed and established The Orchard Family Practice as one of the most respected and successful practices in Portadown. Dr Carson loved her work and was an inspiration to patients and colleagues in how she dealt with her own health issues in such a positive manner.
Her chatty, relaxed consultation style meant that patients were always sure of a careful hearing, a thorough examination, and thoughtful and sensitive advice with her parting words often being, “You take care”.
Bishop Rooke said in his address that she told him in her last days that she wished to be remembered as a good doctor and that is certainly the case as since her death many patients have left messages of appreciation in a book of condolence at the Orchard Practice.
Trish was always someone who would get involved and try to make a difference She was an enthusiastic supporter of integrated education in Portadown, helping with many fundraising events and giving strong support to the teaching staff of the fledgling school, PIPS (Portadown Integrated Primary School). She also, with Colin, put a lot of effort into making the new Portadown Tennis Club happen and played regularly at the club in Edenvilla. She had also been a part president of Portadown Inner Wheel Club.
During their time in Bahamas, Trish and Colin saw and admired the work carried out to support underprivileged children born with heart disease by The Sassoon Heart Foundation. Having supported this work themselves, the couple requested that memorial donations should go to this charity (cheques payable to J Poots and Son and forwarded to their premises at 42 Bridge Street).
The town has lost a popular and excellent doctor at too young an age but the loss of Trish is felt most keenly by her loving husband, Colin, devoted son Kyle and family, friends and colleagues.