A woman whose Christian faith was a shining example

Mrs Judith McClelland.
Mrs Judith McClelland.

AROUND 1,000 mourners attended the funeral of Mrs Judith McClelland at Tandragee Presbyterian Church following her death after a long illness.

Mrs McClelland (58) was the wife of the church’s minister, the Rev George McClelland, and mourners filled the church, the adjoining church hall and there was an overflow into the grounds.

Mrs McClelland, a committed Christian, was deeply loved by everyone who knew her, totally immersed in everything she did, from her family to her wide range of Christian work and her distinguished teaching career - all done without any thought of reward and with a quiet cheerfulness and sense of fun.

As well as her husband, she is survived by her daughters Christine, Susan and Heather, by her mother Mrs Freda Carson, brother Gilly and sisters Rosalynde Robinson and Pamela Anderson. Her father was the late Dr Sam Carson, a legendary GP in Portadown.

Mr and Mrs McClelland were married on Easter Saturday 1949 in First Portadown (Edenderry) Presbyterian Church, where she was a highly-valued member, serving in the choir, Sunday School and as leader of the Ranger Unit of Guides.

She became a Christian at Edenderry during the ministry of Rev Dr William Craig, former Presbyterian Moderator, and worked diligently for the faith, through the Scripture Union in Portadown College when she was a student there, later in the Christian Union at Queen’s University, Belfast, and was a member of the Portadown Young People’s Convention Committee. She was also a leader in the lively Christian Endeavour at First Portadown, and part of the valuable work carried out by The Way To Life Coffee Bar.

At Queen’s, she and a few friends sang together at various meetings in a Christian Band, and during the summer served on the Portrush CSSM team, as part of the Scripture Union - where she and George first met.

A former pupil of Portadown College Junior School and then the senior school (where she started in 1958), Mrs McClelland was captain of the PC hockey first eleven and chair of the Scripture Union. Her hobbies included stamp collecting, cross stitching, flower arranging, tennis (with Edenderry Tennis Club), hockey and being a volunteer member of the St John Ambulance Brigade.

She gained her Bachelor of Science Degree at Queen’s in 1974 in geography, and her teaching career began at Larne Grammar School (1975) and progressed through Armagh Girls High School (1976-78) and then Lurgan College (1978-81). Along the way, she and George were married, and when the family came along, she placed her teaching career on hold to be a full-time mother, after initially setting up home in Lisburn.

She resumed her career in 1993, teaching in various primary and secondary schools, but had to give up when she took ill in February last year while working in Meadowbridge Primary School.

The McClellands were a terrific team in anything they did. George served in the work of the Boys’ Brigade and Judith combined her teaching work with catering at the Northern Ireland Training Centre at the weekend as there was no cook. She did it with her usual commitment, with her humour, grace and kindness reputedly on par with her excellent cooking.

Mr McClelland was National Director of the Boys Brigade in Northern Ireland for a time, having previously served as a minister in Magheragall (near Lisburn) and Middletown. They came to Tandragee in 2008 and were deeply respected in the town and in the Presbyterian Church in general.

The funeral service at Tandragee was conducted by the Rev Joseph Fell, aided by the Rev James Burnett. The hymns were ‘Christ is Made the Sure Foundation’ and ‘All for Jesus’ which were sung at George and Judith’s wedding. Interment was in the adjoining burial ground.

The family thanks the Mandeville Unit in Craigavon Hospital, the nursing staff and especially Dr Hanna (Consultant), Dr Morris, Dr Anderson (Palliative). Dr Gail Pickering (Tandragee GP) and the nursing staff of Tandragee Health Centre for all their care and attention given to Judith. The work of Marie Curie Nurses was much appreciated by the family.

The Tandragee congregation is thanked for their care and love shown over the time of Judith’s illness, and especially in the organising of the arrangements for the funeral service and reception afterwards.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to Joseph Poots and Son, 42 Bridge Street, Portadown, BT63 5AE for Tandragee Presbyterian Church and the Mandeville Unit, Craigavon Hospital.