RUC widows’ champion, Thelma thrilled with BEM honour

Richhill woman, Thelma Corkey, is thrilled and excited to be honoured by the Queen, having received a British Empire Medal in the latest Honours.

Thursday, 17th June 2021, 11:22 am

Mrs Corkey has been in the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Widows’ Association for decades, working hard for those bereaved.

She was aged 36 when she lost her husband, Snowden Corkey, who was shot dead in Markethill in November 1982.

The couple had only been married for eight years and had three young children when he was murdered while manning a police checkpoint in Newry Street.

Mrs Thelma Corkey.

The 41-year-old Reserve Constable and his wife had been living in nearby Glenanne when the attack took place.

Thelma said: “It was a very bad time but I was very lucky to have good family and support.”

She recalled how her husband had urged her to join the Women’s Institute in Glenanne and she is still a member to this day.

After her husband’s death, Thelma moved back to her home village of Richhill and after a few years got in touch with other women who also had lost their husbands.

Mrs Thelma Corkey.

“I started meeting up with other widows , just a few of us at the start and we would meet up for tea.”

She was closely involved in the Association until her parents took ill and she had a back seat for a few years.

On her return she found herself as Vice Chair of the Association and later Chairwoman.

“I was only supposed to be Chairwoman for four years but it has turned into five years because of COVID-19,” said Mrs Corkey.

She described the regular afternoon tea parties they have and the annual dinner in February which brings everyone together.

“It is like being part of a family,” she said, “Everyone helps everyone out. These ladies are all so very supportive.

“Whenever you feel a bit low, you can just pick up the phone and there is always someone to talk to.

“We can talk about our day or if there is a new grandchild or something interesting happening. It always gives you a lift.

“They are all a great bunch of ladies.”

It is harder to get groups going these days but that the support she has had over the decades and the support shown to many other widows has been invaluable.

Thelma has been overwhelmed with all the cards, messages and phone calls since news got out she is to receive a BEM.

“I feel very honoured and humble to get the BEM.

“They are all a great bunch of ladies.”

Now aged 75, Thelma is very excited about the ceremony at which she will receive her honour.

She is uncertain yet where that will be but she thinks probably Hillsborough Castle.

As yet she is not sure of who she will be able to bring with her to the ceremony but is hoping to bring someone from her family.

A former pupil of Clounagh Junior High School, Thelma has represented the Association at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Westminster and at National Police Memorial Day services.

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