Mid Ulster man celebrates special birthday

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A Mid Ulster man recently celebrated a special 75th birthday with family and friends at the Marina Care Home in Ballyronan.

George McCullagh, who lived near Moneymore before going into the care home seven years ago, is believed to be the oldest Down’s Syndrome person alive in the UK and Ireland.

His sister Eileen Miller, from Randalstown, said he is “much loved by all the family.”

She said they were surprised to discover from Down’s Syndrome UK that he is the oldest living person in the UK and Ireland with the condition.

He is the second eldest of four children of William George and Mary Elizabeth (Lily) McCullough and was born on June 1 1944.

He was the only boy and has three sisters - Elizabeth Boyd (Cullybackey), Dorothy McCullagh (Magherafelt) and Eileen.

George was brought up on the family farm between Moneymore and Coagh and helped as best as possible with the animals and general chores.

He is much regarded by his siblings and affectionately known as their ‘wee baby’ because of his level of understanding yet great love that he gives. His favourite pastimes are listening to music, watching country and western singing, painting, colouring in or looking at magazine and books that have colourful pictures.

Having been reared with always having a dog as a pet he loves to see and cuddle any friendly dog.

Said Eileen: “All through his life he is passionate about clothes and keeping clean and tidy which can cause some raised eyebrows when a dog leaves a few hairs on his clothes.

“The dog will always be forgiven whereas a person dare not mark his clothes.”

She explained that in the last few years he has required nursing care and is now a resident in the Marina Care Home on the shores of Lough Neagh.

“He enjoys excellent care there and regards both staff and residents as his family too,” she said.

Eileen said George is “greatly loved” by all his sisters as well as his brother-in-law, Ian, and many nephews and nieces and great nieces.

“We look forward to visiting him every week to find out what he’s been up to,” she said.