Cookstown care home campaigner Jean Faulkner passes away in her 98th year

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An elderly woman whose emotional plea to a former Health Minister resulted in a U-turn over plans to close the Westlands Care Home in Cookstown, has died.

Jean Faulkner, who was in her 98th year, died peacefully at Westlands Home on Sunday.

Local Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson said Ms Faulkner was held in high regard by everyone who knew her.

He said she had been a prominent businesswoman in Cookstown for many years, and paid tribute to her efforts to keep the residential home open.

“Jean was instrumental in getting a stay of execution for Westlands. She was a marvellous woman and everyone knew her,” he said.

Westlands had been lined up for closure along with a number of other homes as part of the ‘Transforming Your Care’ policy.

In April 2014 Ms Faulkner, appealed on television for health trust plans to close the home to be scrapped, mounting pressure on former Health Minister Edwin Poots.

Mr Poots visited Westlands and met with Ms Faulkner and other residents and listened to their concerns if the home closed and they were moved to other residential facilities outside the Mid Ulster area.

He eventually reversed the decision by all five trusts.

At the time there were around 13 permanent residents in Westlands, and the Minister’s U-turn was warmly welcomed by all involved in the campaign to keep the facility open.

Ms Faulkner was a daughter of the late George and Minnie and sister of the late John.

A service of thanksgiving is due to take place in First Presbyterian Church Cookstown on Wednesday at 3pm, following a private family committal.