700 attend service to remember CJD mother

700 attend service to remember CJD mother

June 19, 2001 Press Association by Ian Marland

Around 700 people today attended a thanksgiving service for a young mother who last week died from the human form of mad cow disease.

The family of schoolteacher Julia Blair, 28, arranged the service at the large Queen's Park Baptist Church in Glasgow because of the number of mourners who wanted to remember her life.

Her husband Nick, 30, led the mourners, who included friends and family, members of the couple's evangelical church nearby, staff and students from her school plus medical staff who had cared for her.

Mrs Blair died on Friday from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) just over four months after the birth of the couple's son, Jonathan.

She was not diagnosed with the disease until near the end of her pregnancy.

Doctors carried out tests on Jonathan to establish whether he has symptoms of CJD, but it is believed he is free of the disease.

Today's service, which was held close to Greenview Evangelical Church where the couple were members, was arranged ahead of Mrs Blair's funeral tomorrow.

At today's service, David Wylie, an elder at the couple's church, paid tribute to Mrs Blair's faith in God which had helped her through her illness.

He said her faith had made her a "loving wife and a tender mother" as well as a loyal daughter and sister.

"It was the same faith that sustained her through the carnage of her disease," he added.

He went on to say others could take strength and inspiration from her belief in God "who had been with her throughout her illness and up until her death" and who was with her now.

Family friend Nicky Mackison spoke of Mrs Blair's endearing qualities of kindness and love which had impressed all those people who met her.

He said she was "exuberant, generous and she loved life".

During the hour-long service, prayers were said for Mr Blair, who now faces bringing up the couple's son by himself.

Mrs Blair, originally from Sandend, Banffshire, was a languages teacher at Stonelaw High School in Renfrewshire. Mr Blair is a technical science teacher at St Ninian's High School in Greenock.

The couple met four years ago and were married a year later. They lived in Glasgow.

Their love for each other and the joy their son had brought them was a theme of today's service.

A spokesman for the family said before the service: "Nick and his family wish today's service to be regarded as a celebration of Julia's life.

"They have borne her illness and death within the context of their deep Christian faith as being full of meaning and hope.

"The family has found the very public nature of CJD a very difficult burden to bear and ask that they be given the quiet and privacy which they need now and in the future."

Donations from the service were going to a charity the couple supported which helps homeless people in Glasgow.

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