Christina Wood

One of three famous MacKinnon sisters on the Isle of Bute, Christina Wood has died at the age of 84 after a short illness. It has been said that almost every person on the island over the age of 30 must have been taught by one of the sisters.

Mrs Wood, known as Chrissie to her family, was born in Rothesay on April 12, 1922, the middle child of three striking-looking sisters. Like her younger sister, May, she was an outgoing redhead, while the elder, Nessie (Agnes), was dark-haired and more reserved.

The sisters were brought up in a loving but disciplined home. Their mother, Agnes, was a local girl, while their father, Alex, was a police sergeant, brought up near Eilean Donan Castle, who famously stood no nonsense on duty or at home.

All three sisters trained as teachers at Jordanhill College in Glasgow during the war years, before returning to Bute to guide generations of children through primary school.

May ran the primary school at Port Bannatyne, while Nessie became depute head of Rothesay Primary, where Chrissie also taught until her retirement in 1982.

Chrissie found teaching a delight, and it gave her endless opportunity for the sense of humour that was one of her defining characteristics. She was often reduced to speechless mirth by the innocent antics of her pupils.

Once, when her desk started to collapse, she sent a boy to summon the janitor, Iain Millar, who was bemused to get the message "Please come. Miss MacKinnon's drawers are falling down."

Chrissie married Andrew Wood, the county clerk, in 1962, but their marriage was cut tragically short when he died suddenly eight years later. She was, however, left with two sons from his own earlier marriage.

Chrissie went on to become a well-known public speaker, impressing audiences with her breadth of knowledge. Her talent extended to amateur dramatics and, in one competition, she earned a special mention from adjudicator Howard Lockhart, famous voice of the BBC Scottish Home Service.

She was asked to speak on many subjects and regularly replied for the lassies at Burns suppers. Every year she would insist that it was her last season of talks, but her diary would nevertheless fill up with engagements. Until recently, she and Nessie were often a double act at social events, where Nessie's Scots recitations were a highlight. Their sister May had died in the late 1980s.

Chrissie's Church of Scotland faith was important to her, and she was closely involved in worship, music, and session matters. She was also a voluntary worker well into her seventies, championing causes such as the Red Cross, Macmillan Cancer Support and Meals on Wheels.

She liked to follow the careers of former pupils and, well into retirement, was often still in contact. That enduring bond with children was also evident closer to home. She loved having family to visit - in addition to the two sons, she had five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, whom she especially looked forward to seeing.

The TESS invites obituaries and appreciations from contributors, or suggestions for obituaries. Please email, or write to The TESS, Scott House, 10 South St Andrew StreetEdinburgh EH2 2AZ.

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