Well known in Lisburn for her voluntary work

Gwen McWilliams
Gwen McWilliams

A Lisburn woman well known for her outstanding volunteer work has passed away at the age of 95.

Mrs Gwendoline (Gwen) McWilliams died peacefully in hospital on July 8.

Formerly of Woodview Drive, Gwen was the beloved wife of the late Gerald McWilliams and loving mother of Peter and Timothy and a devoted grandmother and great grandmother.

The huge amount of charity work done by Gwen was recognised three years ago when she received a special award from the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The War on Want volunteer received the award for her, “outstanding contribution to international development”.

Born on April 12 1919 Gwen was raised and educated on the family farm in County Wexford until she moved to Hillsborough in 1928 to live with the Davis family due to poor health.

During her time in Hillsborough Gwen attended the primary school beside Hillsborough Presbyterian Church before becoming a boarder at Friends’ School in 1930.

Her whole life was dedicated in a very personal way to serving the community and supporting individuals.

She took up a residential staff post in a primary school in Richmond and then joined the London Auxiliary Ambulance Service in 1941 when she drove the ambulances during the air raids in the ‘blitz’.

Gwen met her husband at school and after he moved to Belfast it was a mutual friend who kept them in contact and they became engaged in 1942 and were married the same year.

She left the Ambulance Service in early 1944 to join Gerald who was based in Wrexham and their first son Peter was born in June 1944.

When Gerald was posted to Burma as part of the war effort against the Japanese Gwen returned to her family farm in Ballybeg.

When Gerald returned at the end of 1945 the couple and their young son moved to Belfast where Gerald was appointed a post with the Inland Revenue. In 1947 their second son Timothy was born.

They moved to Lisburn in 1975 when Gerald was transferred to the local Inland Revenue office.

Gwen was a volunteer with War on want for 50 years working in right up to her health declined at the local shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays, walking in from Blaris Fold.

A funeral service for family and close friends was held in Roselawn Crematorium but a service of remembrance will take place on August 5 at 10.30am at Friends’ Meeting House, Friends’ School.