LAST week saw the unveiling of a Memorial Plaque and tree, by Health Minister Robin Swann, in the grounds of the Robinson Hospital/Ballymoney Health Centre, to the late much loved and respected Dr John Johnston, who passed away in August 2020.
This fitting tribute was located beside the new ‘Chatty Benches’ also unveiled (see last week’s Chronicle), helping to tackle loneliness; something that would have “greatly pleased” Dr Johnston, according to a former colleague!
Dr Johnston became a General Medical Practitioner at Ballymoney Health Centre in 1970, where he worked until his retirement in 2006; but was active in the community far beyond his role as medical professional.
Dr Johnston’s son Dr David Johnston, Senior GP Partner at Ballymoney Family Practice, had joined with Practice Manager Ms Nuala Lamont to invite Minister Swann, to unveil the plaque and tree, which he was happy to do.
Commenting in her letter to the Department of Health, inviting the Minister to perform the unveiling, Ms Lamont said:
“Dr Johnston was the complete family doctor delivering skilled and compassionate care. He contributed to the development of inpatient palliative care at the Robinson Hospital, he served as a Forensic Medical Officer for the Ballymoney area and set up the Causeway Crossroads Carers Organisation.
“Dr Johnston was a people person and always took time for his patients and anyone really who wanted ‘a chat’; he was well respected in the local area.
“He dedicated his life to healthcare and even after his retirement in 2006 he still looked after the flowers around the health centre and often brought the staff a beautiful bunch of flowers from his garden to brighten up our day.
“He always put a smile on our faces even on the busiest of days.
“Dr Johnston was buried on Wednesday 5th August 2020 and due to the Coronavirus restrictions, his Service of Thanksgiving numbers were restricted.
“The people of Ballymoney lined the streets to mark their respect to a wonderful man who gave so much of his life to the people of the town.
“Many businesses closed for the period that the procession passed through and Ballymoney felt a sense of loss.
“I believe having Dr Johnston’s memorial beside our Chatty Bench area will give people a reason to talk as he is someone that everyone in Ballymoney knew and the can have a mutual conversation about.
“Dr Johnston would have loved the idea of an area where people could go for ‘a wee chat’.
“Now would be a great time to remember Dr Johnston in a way in which would have greatly pleased him,” Ms Lamont concluded.