Tes Editorial

Janet Burnett MBE, has died at the age of 95, which marks the passing of an era. She was a well-liked and highly respected figure in Stirlingshire, where her life as a teacher of art (at the High School of Stirling, McLaren High and Dollar Academy) ensured that she was constantly hailed in public places by former pupils throughout her life.

With no right hand, Janet was technically disabled, but was supremely talented as an artist and needlewoman. She graduated DA from Edinburgh College of Art, qualified as a teacher and married Robert Burnett.

Janet and Robert were cultural Scottish Nationalists, brought into the political arena by the late Dr Robert McIntyre. From 1966-1974, Robert served as SNP councillor and baillie in the Royal Burgh of Stirling. Both were devoted to public service, and their talents as artists were dedicated to improving the school environments and raising funds for good causes. Janet taught further education classes in needlework, from which annual fundraising exhibitions were held in support of charities.

In the 1970s, Janet was a moving spirit behind the establishment of the Stirling Council of Social Service, the precursor of the Council of Voluntary Service, now CVS Stirling. She also worked as a volunteer organiser for the Scottish Spastic Society, now Capability Scotland, a service for which she was awarded the MBE in 1977. She was involved in setting up the Council on Disability in Stirling. When Stirling Swimming Pool opened, she founded and ran the Arion Club, a swimming club for disabled young people. She was an active supporter of the Camphill-Rudolf Steiner School at Blair Drummond.

Always an innovator, when Robert died in 1998 she commissioned a stylish piece of art in his memory, for the grounds of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum. It was the first of many on the site, which has since grown into an outdoor education centre and a significant visitor attraction in its own right.

Margaret McBennett, who died aged 60 after a valiant and protracted battle with aesophogal cancer, was a special lady to all who came in contact with her.

Margaret was a former pupil of Lawside Academy in Dundee and a graduate of Craiglockhart College of Education. Her career took her to Zambia and back to Dundee primary schools. Prior to her early retirement in 2005, she was head of Our Lady's Primary School in the city. A Catholic, she was a leading figure in Christian Meditation Scotland.

Children, particularly those with additional support needs, were fortunate if they found themselves in Margaret's school; she did not simply recycle them around the latest intervention and support initiatives, but sought to meet their needs by identifying the best ways to make a positive difference to their lives. She cared genuinely and deeply about all who were part of her school family.

Margaret is survived by her son Dominic, daughter-in-law Catherine and grand-daughters Sian and Thea.

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