Dobson honours memory of inspirational Waringstown lady

Jo-Anne Dobson at the TEDx event.
Jo-Anne Dobson at the TEDx event.

SPEAKING at the recent TEDx Conference in Stormont Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has honoured the memory of the late Mrs Josie Kerr.

Josie, who lived in Waringstown, together with her husband Walter, founded the Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association (NIKRF).

Mrs Dobson said: “I was speaking at the conference with the theme ‘imagine’ and highlighted the deeply personal story of Josie and her brave battle against kidney disease.”

The TEDx Stormont Conference took place at Parliament Buildings, Belfast last Thursday. The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) Conference has grown rapidly into an international platform for world changers and visionaries.

Speaking at the conference Mrs Dobson said: “Josie’s memory and her lasting legacy are held in very high regard by the people of Waringstown and indeed by people across the world because of the massive impact which NIKRF has made and continues to make, to fund research, advance science and ultimately save lives.

“I explained that how, being served by Josie as a newlywed in Waringstown post office, I never thought for a moment that I would ever experience anything like the trauma she had been through. But my son Mark was to suffer from kidney trouble and at thirteen he entered renal failure.

“Mark received a transplant in 2009, which saved his life. But the sad fact remains that on average fifteen people die every year in Northern Ireland while waiting on an organ to be found.

“During my speech I explained that, because of my link with organ donation, I have tabled a Private Members Bill at Stormont. A Bill which would make a simple change in local law which will help save lives. If we move from the current opt-in to a new opt-out system of organ donation, with appropriate family safeguards, we will save lives in Northern Ireland.

“In total there were twenty speakers who addressed the conference on various issues and it was an honour for me to speak about Josie’s experience, my experience and the future of my Private Members Bill.

“The final performance on the evening was from Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol who dedicated a new song, ‘Gary Lightbody (and the Assembly)’ to the local music therapy trust.”