Obituary

11th September 2009 at 01:00

Valerie Thomson, who has died aged 60 after being hit by a lorry while crossing Great Western Road in Glasgow, was a popular teacher - first at Laurel Bank School in the city's west end, later at the Glasgow Gaelic Secondary in Berkeley Street and, most recently, at Glasgow Academy, where she was head of the department of home economics.

She was also a proud guardian of Gaelic, the language she was brought up speaking on Islay, although she had been born in Glasgow. It was she who introduced her husband, Kenneth, to the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association, affectionately known as the GG, where he has been choir conductor, arranger and a general driving force on behalf of the language and music for the past 26 years.

Mrs Thomson did not sing in the choir, Scotland's oldest Gaelic choral group dating back to the 19th century, but acted in many of its productions and was much loved as voluntary cook and caterer at its meetings and events.

She had officially retired on her 60th birthday in April, but returned to Glasgow Academy to teach home economics part-time to senior pupils. She was walking from the school on Colebrooke Street to her home on Cleveden Drive when she was killed in what was described as a hit-and-run accident.

Mary Valerie Ferguson was born in 1949 to an old Islay family, although her mother had come to a Glasgow nursing home to give birth. She went to the island's Portnahaven Primary but came back to the mainland to attend St Columba's in Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, which was a girls-only school at the time.

It was in Glasgow she met Kenneth Thomson, who was a manager in the National Health Service. After they married in 1971, she took him to meet her friends at the Ceolraidh Ghaidhlig Ghlaschu, the Glasgow Gaelic Musical Association, which became a huge part of their lives.

Whenever Kenneth led the choir to prizes and medals at the National Mod, including the Lovat and Tullibardine Trophy at the 2007 Mod in Fort William, it was Valerie who prepared the food at the subsequent parties or after their rehearsals in Partick South Church on Dumbarton Road.

Bill Kerr, general manager of Glasgow Academy, described her as a "passionate and dedicated teacher".

He added: "The whole school is shocked and saddened. She had a wonderful way with the children. They will be devastated."

One of Mrs Thomson's brothers, Duncan Ferguson, is headteacher of Plockton High; the other, Angus, is a lecturer at Reid Kerr College in Paisley. She is survived by her husband, two children, two brothers and three grandchildren.

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