An iconic Belfast clock that the IRA nearly called the time on in the 1980s has been brought to life for a campaign to mark Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
The watch, which looked down from the Hughes Bakery (later Peter Pans) on Springfield Road, has been removed from storage for the Time Matters campaign, which emphasizes the importance of early detection of pancreatic cancer.
The reader, launched by the new charity Nipanc, runs throughout November and features famous clocks from across Northern Ireland, including the Albert Memorial Clock and the old Belfast Telegraph Clock.
The famous Hughes clock has been a part of town life for over 100 years
The timepiece, which survived two world wars and an IRA bomb explosion, was brought to the city by Barney Hughes, creator of the Belfast bap.
It was removed for its own protection in the 1980s by Michael Hurrell, who bought the old bakery in the 1970s.
The clock has been restored twice by Mr. Hurrell and has spent the last few years in storage at his son Brendan’s home in Antrim.
When Brendan heard about the Time Matters campaign in Sunday Life, he jumped at the chance to pull the clock out of storage because the cause is close to his heart.
“I was reading Sunday Life when the headline ‘Iconic Clocks’ caught my attention, and then when I read about the pancreatic cancer campaign, I was even more interested,” he said.
“A good friend of my wife’s passed away from pancreatic cancer three years ago because it was not detected in time.
“Collette Lavery was from Randalstown and had just celebrated her 50th birthday. She was super fit and in great shape and then all of a sudden she took it badly.
“I knew I had a good time here, so with the campaign, I had a foot in both camps. I contacted the association to see if they would be interested in using the clock.
The clock, to which residents of West Belfast have set their watches for more than 100 years, was dismantled after surviving a terrorist attack.
“There was a huge bomb at the back of the bakery and more than half of the building was in ruins,” Brendan said.
“It was fortunate that the clock hadn’t blown in the street.
“My father decided to take it apart to protect it. He took it to have it refurbished and the old chain mechanism was taken out and given an electric motor.
“My dad kept it at home until a few years ago when he gave it to me.
“I didn’t want to put him outside in case he got damaged by the weather, so he was in a blanket in the shed.
“I think it’s wonderful that such a famous clock can now come out of the closet for such a great cause.”
Lisa Strutt, a board member of Nipanc, whose husband died of pancreatic cancer last year, said there had been a big response to the campaign.
She added, “Our Time Matters campaign uses images of iconic clocks to raise awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the urgent need for early diagnosis.
“It seems to have struck a chord. We’ve had a lot of public engagement and nothing better than this.
“We were thrilled when Brendan, who read our campaign article in Sunday Life, contacted us about this clockwork beauty and its nostalgic history.
“We are very grateful to him because it helped tell a story that will help save lives. This is our primary objective. “
To learn more about Nipanc and the Time Matters campaign, visit www.nipanc.org