All Together NOW! has lost one its longest and most conscientious supporters, writes TOM DOWLING
Eileen Eastwood, my last surviving aunt, spent almost all her adult life caring for people, and helped to set up this charity newspaper way back in 2004.
Although she didn’t have any of the skills needed to create a newspaper, she did have a wealth of empathy and understanding of what we wanted to do.
Eileen was born in 1927 in working class Liverpool, educated at Blackburn House school, and had a successful career in the civil service.
She’d lived through the Second World War and witnessed the horrors of the Nazi bombings and the May Blitz, which claimed members of her family. She also saw her 20-year-old brother, my Uncle Frank, return from the war paralysed from the waist with spinal injuries.
Caring for others came natural to her – and for John, her husband. Together they looked after their elderly parents, who had to deal with tuberculosis, strokes, and heart problems. Eileen also cared for John, when, in 1984, he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.
“Life’s been particularly tough at times,” she told me. “But there is so much love around. It’s important not to dwell too much on what’s gone and what might have been. So much better to have lived and loved, to keep positive, and always to look for the better side in people”
Despite being in her late 70s, Eileen thought nothing of putting on her overalls and gloves and helping us to move desks and computers into our offices in the Bradbury Centre.
She was one of our original trustees and remained so until her death, aged 92, in December at Christopher Grange Care Home, where she had lived for the past four years or so.
Despite frustrated at her own ongoing health issues – and there were many – Eileen was always far more concerned about how others were coping, and, hardly surprising, proud of how All Together NOW! continues to help people across the region.
We’ll all miss her deeply.