'huge void' | 

Vicky Phelan’s family made Christmas special ‘even with heavy hearts’

"We made this Christmas special at Vicky's request,” her family revealed in an update to supporters of the CervicalCheck campaigner.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Vicky Phelan’s family have shared a touching Christmas update on their first festive season without the CervicalCheck campaigner.

The mum-of-two passed away in November at the age of 48 after a lengthy public battle with cancer.

Her family have said they did their best to have a happy Christmas as it is what Vicky wished for.

"We made this Christmas special at Vicky's request and even with heavy hearts we overcame our sorrow to make a very Happy Christmas for all the family,” they said in a heartfelt post on the Vicky’s Tribe Facebook page.

"We would like to wish a very Happy New Year to all the members of Vicky's Tribe and all the administrators who set up this platform to give Vicky so much Love and support over the last few years,” it read.

“It has been an amazing experience to see how it bonded so many people together to be part of our family and share in Vicky's life at a time when she needed it most to help her ease and overcome some of her difficulties and we can say it was an overwhelming success.

"Of course it will leave a huge void for us when Vicky’s Tribe Page is taken down as it gives us so much pride reading all your beautiful comments and at the end all your genuine sympathy and condolences at the loss of a very special daughter.

"We made this Christmas special at Vicky's request and even with heavy hearts we overcame our sorrow to make a very Happy Christmas for all the family.”

Vicky’s parents, John and Gaby, her husband, Jim and two children, Amelia and Darragh, signed-off the message with a touching tribute to Vicky’s supporters.

"So a big Thank You to each and every one of you for your love and kindness to our wonderful daughter Vicky. Regards. John x Gaby Kelly x family and Jim, Amelia and Darragh."

Thousands of people gathered in Mooncoin, Kilkenny, in November to remember the CervicalCheck campaigner.

The gathering heard how Vicky changed life “for the women in Ireland and their daughters” and of her “ferociousness to fight for what was right”.

Vicky had received an incorrect smear test result three years before her diagnosis.

She spent the remainder of her life campaigning for justice.

Close friend Charlie Bird lead public tributes to Ms Phelan as the news of her death broke, saying his “hero is gone”.

“My heart is broken just hearing about the passing of Vicky Phelan. Over the past year she gave me great support to keep fighting my terminal illness.

“This whole country should be in mourning at the passing of this remarkable human being. My heart is broken. My hero is gone.”

President Michael D Higgins praised Ms Phelan’s “powerful inner strength and dignity” as well as her contribution to Irish society in an official statement.

“It is with the deepest sense of sadness that people across Ireland and beyond will have heard of the death of Vicky Phelan.

"All of us who had the privilege of meeting Vicky will have been struck by the powerful inner strength and dignity with which she not only faced her own illness, but with the sense of commitment to the public good and the rights of others with which she campaigned.

"Vicky, in all of this, made an enormous contribution to Irish society. Thanks to her tireless efforts, despite the terrible personal toll she herself had to carry, so many women’s lives have been protected, and will be protected in the future.

"She will be deeply missed, by all of those who were in awe of her courage, her resilience, offered not only to women but to all of us in Ireland."

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