Sadness at death of ‘caring and compassionate’ RUC welfare champion

Former RUC officer Joyce Crossan with the MBE she was awarded in 2009
Former RUC officer Joyce Crossan with the MBE she was awarded in 2009

A former RUC officer who devoted her life to the welfare of the bereaved and wounded has been praised as a “beautiful caring and compassionate” lady following her death on Christmas Day.

Joyce Crossan MBE served as secretary of the Lurgan Voluntary Welfare Support Group after completing 31 years’ police service - working in Belfast, Armagh, Portadown and Lurgan before retiring in 2001.

Mrs Crossan, who served in the force for 31 years, died peacefully on December 25.

Originally from Dungannon, she joined the police at the age of 21, fulfilling a childhood dream. The mother of one retired in 2001, saying she was eternally grateful to have reached the milestone, unlike so many of her former police colleagues.

On retirement Mrs Crossan continued her work in support of police widows and injured officers and became secretary of the 240-member Lurgan support group set up by the RUC George Cross Foundation to provide therapy and welfare support.

At the time of her MBE award, the foundation said: “Eighteen RUC officers were murdered by terrorists during the Troubles in the Lurgan district and Joyce was invariably found in the homes of murdered, injured or intimidated officers giving much-needed support”.

Mrs Crossan had lived in Gilford, Co Down for a number of years and her funeral took place yesterday at Newmills Presbyterian Church in Portadown.

A number of her former colleagues praised the welfare champion as a much-loved friend to the wider police family.

In a Facebook message one said: “A beautiful, caring compassionate lady who supported many grieving widows during her time in the RUC. Loved her.”

Another said: “A real sincere lady. A pleasure to have served with Joyce.”

In a 2009 interview with the Portadown Times, Mrs Crossan said: “I am delighted to receive [the MBE], but I don’t think I deserve it. I think it should it go to the widows, pensioners and other members of the Lurgan Welfare Group who have lost so much over the years. There are people in the group still suffering terrible mental and physical handicaps.”

Mrs Crossan is survived by husband Eric, son Rodney, daughter-in-law Sally-Ann and grandchildren Joseph and Alfie.