MBE delight for Finvoy health care professional

A FINVOY woman has expressed her delight at being recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her groundbreaking health care work.

Wednesday, 16th June 2010, 1:31 pm

And with a trip to Buckingham Place to pick up her MBE due for later in the year, it is turning out to be quite a year for Nessie Blair.

Ahead of potentially meeting Her Majesty The Queen, Nessie's daughter Carolyn graduates from Queen's University in Belfast in July and then gets married to Jonathan Boyd in August.

And there already was another big occasion in the Blair household this year as her son Martyn - well-known in Young Farmers' Clubs circles - married Barbara McFetridge in January.

Nessie and her husband Bill, who live at Drumlee Road, were off on a trip to Westport in County Mayo when the Times caught up with her on Monday.

She was given the award for 'services to health care and respiratory services in Northern Ireland' and she told the Times: "I am delighted and also very humbled but at the same time very excited and very proud not just for myself but for my husband and family.

"I met Prince Charles and Camilla at a Garden Party in Hillsborough through the Northern Trust before but I never thought I would get to Buckingham Palace and potentially meet The Queen."

She revealed that ahead of going into the Palace recipients are given a quick run-through on etiquette and taught how to curtsy.

As she recounted all her family events in 2010 she told the Times: "This has been a very memorable year for me and it is set to get better!"

As well as her health care work, Nessie is involved in Christian outreach work with Drumreagh Church and is a Vice-President of a Presbyterian Church women's group and is also on the committee of Rasharkin Wormen's Community Group.

But she is exceptionally well known for her groundbreaking health work and helping to tackle issues like smoking and lung disease. Nessie worked for 34 years in the NHS and trained in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Nessie said: "I am thankful to God that he has given me the health to do all I have but not only during my time in the Health Service but I was very challenged by my work trying to improve respiratory services."

She founded the Breathe Easy group based at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine in 2001 when she was a Respiratory Nurse Specialist in Causeway Trust.

She had a great passion to see respiratory services improved and acted as Medical Advisor to the group when it was set up. Since her retirement from Causeway Trust Nessie now chairs this group.

Nessie also set up a smoking cessation group in 1999.

She has contributed much to that field of health care and has worked with the British Lung Foundation through which she won the 'Outstanding Nursing in the Community' award in 2002.

Nessie has spoken at the World Health Organisation conference in Helsinki and she did a study on nebulisers.

She was also well known through media campaigns associated with 'No Smoking Day'.

Nessie would like to thank the people who have helped her get the award including past and present officials of Breathe Easy and Dr Cinnamond.

She retired from the Northern Health Trust in 2007 and in September that year became managing director of her own company 'Smoking Cessation Services NI' to deliver smoking cessation services both locally and regionally.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey has offered his congratulations to Mrs Blair and to others all of the local people who received awards in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Commending them for their service to the community Mervyn Storey said: "These awards stand among the highest honours that the nation can bestow upon our citizens. They are not simply a public representation of the fact of the monarch, rather they represent an acknowledgement by the nation of service done for the nation."