OBITUARY: Former Larne mayor Joan Drummond

Joan Drummond, pictured here in 1994, was mayor of Larne between 1997 and 2000
Joan Drummond, pictured here in 1994, was mayor of Larne between 1997 and 2000

Joan Drummond was a committed community figure who rose to become the first citizen of her Co Antrim town.

She was born November 6, 1937, in Whitehead, east Co Antrim, to parents Ruth and Samuel McCleary (the latter being a bus driver).

She was one of five children, and left school aged 14 to start delivering papers, before going on to work in a newsagent’s shop.

She married her husband (also called Samuel) around 1960.

She had begun helping out at what her daughter Joanne Hobbes called a “good neighbours’ club”; she had felt that being involved in the group “kept her head right” following some family bereavements.

She later moved to Larne and joined the Lynn Social Club in the Craigy Hill area, helping with activities for old age pensioners.

For roughly 40 years, she remained involved with the club.

The mayor of the time – UUP councillor Tommy Robinson – had given her an award for her efforts, and afterwards she was approached by Ulster Unionist stalwart Roy Beggs Snr to join the party because of the profile which her community work had given her.

She was elected to the council’s Coast Road district to the north of Larne in 1989, and remained a councillor until 2005.

From 1997 to 2000 she was the borough’s mayor.

She was very “cross-community” in her outlook, said Joanne, adding: “When she was going to all kinds of events she wouldn’t say ‘No, I’d not go to that because it’s in a chapel’ or whatever. She’d have gone everywhere.”

She was awarded an MBE in 2000.

She was not re-elected in 2005, but this gave her an opportunity to spend more time with her husband, who had developed Alzheimer’s.

“She felt that gave her three to four quality years with my daddy, not having to go out to council meetings every night,” said Joanne.

He died in 2009.

She herself had experienced a number of bouts of ill health and died in Antrim Area Hospital of natural causes on September 10.

Her funeral was at First Larne Presbyterian Church on September 12.

She was buried in Larne Cemetery.

She is survived by daughter Joanne, son Samuel Drummond, brothers Derek and Jim McCleary and four grandchildren.