Tributes pour in for Widow’s Mite founder

The Widow's Mite
The Widow's Mite
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There were emotional scenes on Friday at Glendermott Parish Church, when over 200 mourners gathered to pay their final respects to Sylvia ‘Joan’ Baggley, later of Woodburn, Londonderry.

One of the five founding members of Widow’s Mite Mrs Baggley (nee Alford) was the wife of Reserve Constable William Baggley, a part-time member of the RUC who was murdered by the IRA on January 29, 1974, and mother of Reserve Constable Linda Baggley (19), also a part-time member of the RUC, who was injured and subsequently died from her injuries on June 2, 1976 after being shot on May 23 that year.

Among the first to pay tribute to Mrs Baggley was UUP Alderman Mary Hamilton, who described her as a kind and understanding person, who had great empathy for the Hamilton family following the devastating effects of the Claudy bomb and the death of Mrs Hamilton’s brother-in-law, Ellis, who was killed in 1972.

“We both tried to help each other because we had so much in common. She was deeply traumatised by the double tragedy that her family suffered; life was never the same for her, but she worked so hard to keep the memory of those who had lost their lives in acts of violent terrorism in Northern Ireland during the Troubles,” said Mrs Hamilton.

Extending sympathy to the Baggley family, Mrs Hamilton said: “I would like to pay tribute to her selfless dedication and commitment to others. She was a most understanding, caring person and that is how I will remember her.”

Newly installed Peer of the Realm, Lord William Hay, said he had known Mrs Baggley, a fellow member of the DUP, for almost 40 years.

“She was the kindest person I have ever met and, although she lost her husband and daughter to terrorism, she never held any bitterness. In life she was highly respected. She was always very straightforward; what she thought she said. There is nothing wrong with that. She was somebody we all admired very much. She was very loving and kind and she will be missed,” he said.

Meanwhile, Michael Clark, the chairman of Widow’s Mite, which earlier this year was integrated with the Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism group, described Mrs Baggley as “a beautiful person who never had a bad word to say about anybody”.

“Even though her husband and daughter were shot and killed by the IRA, I never heard her badmouth the IRA. I would like to extend my sympathy to her family.”

Mrs Baggley is survived by daughter Lorraine and son Graham, daughter-in-law of Christine, and grandchildren Graham, Andrew, Christopher, David, Adam and Nicky, and wider family circle. Burial was to Altnagelvin Cemetery.