A MUCH-loved Bangor woman who fought hard to raise funds for a cancer charity has tragically lost her own brave battle against the disease.
Christine Wilksinson, who was just 48, was laid to rest last Tuesday, leaving behind two teenage sons, Ben, aged 17, and 14 year-old Kyle.
She was the youngest sister of siblings, Anita and Tracey, and is survived by her father Herbie, her late mother Mavis having passed away in 2020.
Friends and colleagues from her various posts in recent years within the health sector formed a guard of honour in uniform at her funeral service at Clarke’s in Bangor.
Christine’s premature death, at the Marie Curie hospice, follows great efforts on her part to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer aged 41.
In recent times she raised more than £4,400 for the charity by running the Bangor 10K with her former husband Phil, which she had run for five years.
It was in 2016 that the run became all the more important for her as she battled her way through training for it following a punishing round of treatment.
Ahead of the run she had gone through two major surgeries and six rounds of chemotherapy.
Despite Christine’s infinite positivity she succumbed to the cruel disease on April 7.
A young Christine Beare attended Ballyholme Primary School – where her well-known father Herbie worked as caretaker in his retirement – then progressed on to Glenlola Collegiate School.
She then headed to Scotland where she attended Queen Margaret University in Musselburgh outside Edinburgh, graduating with a first class honours degree in occupational therapy.
Her qualification brought her back home where she worked within the NHS and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service before later joining the Belfast Trust where she scaled the heights of her career, becoming co-director of Older People’s Services.
“One of her many legacies was leading the Trust to be the first health trust in Northern Ireland to be accredited with the Royal College of Psychiatrists Memory Services,” said her proud older sister, Anita Stewart.
Christine maintained lifelong friendships with school mates from both her primary and secondary years, and according to Anita, was the ‘queen of the dance floor’ on nights out with her pals.
“She loved nothing better than getting glammed up and dancing all night. She was, and remained, at all times 100%, from head to toe, the epitome of elegance and class. Whether 9am on a dreary Monday morning in the office or on a Friday night out.
“All the incredibly strong friendship groups she had were so important in Christine’s life and these groups surrounded and supported her throughout her cancer journey to the very end,” she said.
Christine also made sure she made time for colleagues at work and even her former workmates within the Ambulance Service, often meeting for coffee dates and get-togethers.
“Her family, her boys, were also very important to her,” she stressed.
“Becoming a mum and bringing her beautiful boys into this world was the greatest privilege and most important thing in her world. She loved Ben and Kyle more than anything in the world,” she said.
“From the early years the daily saying at home was ‘I love you to the black hole and beyond.’ Bringing her boys up to be the independent, smart, kind and resilient young men they are today made her so very proud.
“Christine relished the busyness that brought to her life with balancing being a career girl and a mum. She put herself through her Master’s Degree and would often be doing assignments after putting the boys to bed – 9pm – 1am was Masters Time.
“But she would be up in the morning with nails done and heels on. She was very determined to role-model to the boys the importance of working hard to achieve your goals and wanted to ensure Ben and Kyle enjoyed a life-time of experiences and adventures and wanted them to know that the mantra of working hard and playing hard is perfectly acceptable.”
Anita concluded: “Christine has touched the lives of many during her 48 years and as such, in keeping her memory alive for her boys, we intend to complete many fundraising events for Marie Curie in the coming 18 months, culminating in a ball, on what would have been her 50th birthday, in November 2024.”
In 2016, Christine spoke of her personal motivation for setting up her fundraising page for her Bangor 10K bid that year, by urging other women to look after themselves.
“Part of this was to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, so please ladies take a minute and link into Target Ovarian Cancer (”