BIRMINGHAM-Irish community stalwart Danny Ryan has paid tribute to his late wife Karen, who was his backbone and greatest supporter.
Ms Ryan died at the age of 54 in the early hours of November 3, at the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield after a 10-month battle with breast cancer.
“We were shocked,” Mr Ryan told The Irish Post ahead of her funeral next Thursday. “We were hoping things were moving in the right direction.”
The wife of the Birmingham-based marathon fundraiser, who has raised in excess of £2.5million for charitable causes, was diagnosed with the disease in January.
The mother-of-two appeared to be in recovery in June, before a scan in October showed that the cancer had spread to her liver.
Over the years, Ms Ryan supported her husband as he raised huge amounts of money to supply medical equipment for every major hospital in Birmingham.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today without her,” he said. “Karen supported me through everything, she really embraced the Irish community.
“I want her to be remembered as the one that always stayed in the background but always encouraged me in whatever I did. Whenever I introduced her to people she would jump to life and she would be the part and parcel of everything.”
The couple, who have been married 23 years, first met at one of his fundraising events at the Irish-owned Ceol Castle pub in Birmingham.
Mr Ryan has received an MBE and an Irish Post Award for his fundraising activities, and at an awards evening in Birmingham for the latter, he presented the Irish crystal award to his late wife, whom he said was the one who truly deserved it.
Ms Ryan is also survived by her two children, Kayleigh, 21, and son Danny Junior, 18, plus her extended family.
Only last month she joined in the celebrations of her two children’s milestone birthdays.
She will be received at St Gerard’s RC Church, Castle Vale, on Wednesday, November 25 at 7pm.
The funeral will take place on Thursday, November 26 at noon, followed by internment at Brandwood End Cemetery.
A reception and celebration of Karen’s life will take place at the Emerald Club afterwards.
Whilst flowers are welcome, the family has requested that donations be made to either Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer or Macmillan Cancer Support.