Family’s nightmare after Northway crash

Sylvia and John McKee
Sylvia and John McKee

The family of a 72-year-old woman, who died in an accident in Portadown on Sunday, have spoken of their nightmare as her husband fights for his life in hospital.

Great grandmother Sylvia McKee, a well known and popular Portadown native, died after a two vehicle crash on the Northway.

Mrs McKee and her husband John were travelling in a Peugeot 108. The 54-year-old driver of the other car, a Honda Accord, was arrested at the scene.

Mr McKee remains critically ill in hospital.

Their daughter Nicola described the family’s trauma as ‘a nightmare’.

She said her father John remains in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital. “It’s been a very difficult time. There is no change. The ventilator is doing all the work for him.”

As the family visit their father in hospital and organise their mother’s funeral arrangements, Nicola spoke warmly of a fun-loving family woman who adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“She had a brilliant sense of humour. She didn’t act her age and didn’t look her age,” said Nicola.

She described her mum as ‘fun-loving, caring, generous’. “She would have done anything for anyone.”

Sylvia loved socialising and was a keen dancer and loved her nights out. She adored Roly Daniels and had tickets for this Saturday night to go and see him at the Seagoe Hotel.

Nicola said: “She enjoyed walking and would have sat all day in the sun.” She also enjoyed her holidays abroad.

“When Dad took ill around three years ago, she didn’t abroad so much but spent time at her sister’s home 
in England.”

The couple were both avid fans of Liverpool FC from the 1970s and never missed a match.

Sylvia and John met in 1970 and got married in 1984. They celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary on July 7 this year.

The couple had three children Nicola, Sanya and Stephen. Tragically Sanya died suddenly in Poland six years ago while on holiday.

Sylvia adored her grandchildren, Sharon, Gemma, Stuart, Kris, Demi, Isha, Jason, Chloe-Anne, Tyler and Zara as well as her great grandchildren Tia, Levi, Katie and Sam.

Nicola said: “She loved the wee ones. She loved to see them coming. They called her the ice-cream woman.”

Sylvia was born in Carrickdale Gardens off the Tandragee Road and moved with her parents to the newly built Killicomaine in 1953. The family home is still there, where her brother resides.

The daughter of Joseph and Gladys Clulow, Sylvia has two sisters and a brother, Shirley, Victor and Millie.

In her youth she went to Edenderry School and then Killicomaine Junior High School.

A hard worker all her life, like many of her generation she worked as a stitcher in Spence Bryson, Ulster Laces and the Mayfair factories in her home town.

She also worked in Oakland Foods and Robinson Foods before taking up a post at the Camelot Bar in the town centre,

Later she worked at Unidare and, though she retired at 60, she returned to work a couple of days a week in the canteen.

Mrs McKee is resting at Ian Milne’s Funeral Home. Her funeral will be on Tuesday at Noon at Seagoe Parish Church.